As a medical professional who has devoted his career to caring for kids, my heart aches at these statistics.
No child should die.
That’s my dream. It’s also a gargantuan challenge to meet.There are battles to fight – against infections like measles, pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, and malaria, against birth asphyxia and neonatal tetanus, and against birth defects.
I have to pick my battles – so that I can win, not merely fight.
We all face similar choices every day.
Which issues to address?
What actions to take?
How to make a difference?
Injustice and unfairness is innately oppressive and disgusting to every normal human being. We want to believe in a world where justice prevails, where the good are rewarded and the evil punished.
And that is why violations of these ‘rules of natural justice’ make us angry.
Yet anger alone is useless. Even if it spurs you on to taking action, unless the action is focused and directed in the right way, you may not achieve the desired result.
A chisel is more effective at cutting through mortar or rock because all its energy and force is concentrated along a thin, sharp edge. It isn’t spread out over a large area, and therefore can break through tough barriers.
Be a chisel.
Pick your battles.
Make a meaningful difference.
It’s a hard choice – because it means you’ll have to ignore some unpleasant things, turn a blind eye to some forms of injustice, pay only passing attention to some unfairness in the world – and live with that burden of guilt.
Just make sure you don’t use that as an excuse to ignore everything.
A few hours before watching the memorial service to my favorite singer and entertainer, Michael Jackson, I was on YouTube seeing “The Making of Live Aid for Africa” – a musical extravaganza spearheaded by Michael and Lionel Ritchie that went on to raise over $60 million dollars in 1985 for fighting hunger in a famine-ravaged Ethiopia.
In addition to reminding me what made MJ special in my heart, the lyrics of the song also set off dormant, deeply buried memories – and set off a bright flash of insight.
“There’s a choice we’re making,
We’re saving our own lives,
It’s true we make a better day,
Just you and me!”
The verse has echoed in my mind for years. For decades.
And with a little shock of surprise, I realized that it, at least in part, had been responsible for my choice of career and direction – one that has touched and healed 47 little hearts until now, and hopefully will help many more.
Yes, it’s a choice I made many years ago. And the reason I was bold enough to make it was, probably, from knowing that by making it, I was “saving my own life”!
Sound corny? Not to an idealistic eighteen year old, no. It held promise – of a brighter future, a happier one.
And guess what? That ‘possible future’ is my daily reality today!
While peers and contemporaries are getting increasingly stressed out running on an ever-speeding up treadmill and getting nowhere, comforted by little more than the regular deposits in their bank accounts, I’m finding deep joy and spiritual nourishment from “making a better day” for people in need. Children with congenital heart defects.
Words have power – to inspire dreams.
Music has power – to infuse them with energy.
I’ve always envied kindergarden teachers for their incredible potential to plant seeds in fertile young minds that, over years, will sprout, grow and bear fruit in rich multiples of what first went into them.
But now I also envy singers, musicians, artists, writers and just about anyone else who has skills, talents and desire to use words and music to create impact.
Impact that goes far beyond anything you can consciously imagine. Impact that touches every little corner of the connected humanity that is our collective consciousness. Impact that manifests in so many strange, unexpected and delightful ways.
A song, co-ordinated, planned and performed by 30 artists on a summer day in 1985, can save thousands of lives in starving Africa – and at the same time inspire a young, aspiring doctor in India to set out on a dreamy path.
“Heal the world,
Make it a better place
For you, and for me,
And the entire human race”
That is impact. That is influence. That is what makes Michael Jackson a legend!
That is what the world celebrated in a fitting tribute to the ‘King of Pop’ on Tuesday, 7th July 2009.
It’s a celebration of the impact that words, music and memories made on millions of hopeful minds – over many decades.
I'm Dr.Mani, a pediatric heart surgeon and author. I raise funds to sponsor heart surgery for under-privileged children in India. On this blog, I'll share my thoughts, travel photos, fitness tips and book reviews.