Posts Tagged ‘We Are Family Foundation’
The past two months have been special. Each experience could be the subject of a post, but I’ll attempt to capture my learnings (or lack of) succinctly from the 3 highlights:
- I spent a week in Israel and then a day in the West Bank meeting entrepreneurs. Never before have I heard two sides of an argument and felt so equally compelled by emotion, logic, and passion. Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are stunning, and Ramallah could not be more different despite being so close. The longer I stayed, the more I realized how little I knew about one of the most complex issues globally. Religion has extraordinary power to unite. It also has extraordinary power to divide.
- I left Cuba deeply honored to be part of such a historic trip, but with a heavy heart. The hospitality, warmth, and drive of the Cuban people made me fall in love with our neighbors. The locals, for the most part, embrace America. But entrenched interests (i.e. the Communist Party) don’t. The country is behind (there are only a handful of wifi hotspots in the whole country, doctors make less than a $1/day…), but the people are looking forward. I hope change is coming.
- I sat at the dinner table of President Jimmy Carter last night at the We Are Family Foundation Gala, my first time ever dining at the same table as an American President. We talked about his health, the issue he is most passionate about (eradicating Guinea worm – he is close), and his mentee (and my hero) Mattie Stepanek. He didn’t just inspire me with his words, but also his energy. At 91, he has a vibrancy for life and a zest for change that is invigorating. His legacy will live on far longer than him.
“We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.” – President Jimmy Carter
Last year, I had the priviledge and honor of being a Global Teen Leader (GTL) by the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF). WAFF, founded by musician and producer Nile Rodgers, created its Three Dot Dash GTL program in honor of the life of peacemaker Mattie JT Stepanek. Mattie, who died right before his 14th birthday, was a child prodigy and peacemaker, writing a book with Jimmy Carter. According to Mattie, each one of us has a heartsong, or a special gift within us that is meant to be shared with the rest of the world. Each of the GTLs, now at 90 worldwide, shared Mattie’s committment to making the world more peaceful.
Yesterday, I received an email on the Three Dot Dash Global Teen Leader listserv that went something like this:
Our brother Mahmoud Jabari – 2008 GTL – from Palestine was arrested by the Israeli troops two days ago during the Hebron Protests!
The GTLs have launched a global campaign, including a petition to free him. He was chosen by the United Nations to deliver this message to the Security Council in a few months, and we have thus reached out to Ambassador Susan Rice to notify her and ask for her guidance to ensure minimal pain.
Mahmoud, a peacemaker, journalist, and founder of Lens for Change, represents what the Middle East needs. As the generation of those who were not alive, and whose parents were not alive, during the creation of Israel about 60 years ago begins to enter their early 20s, people like Mahmoud will be critical to bringing peace to the region. As the stories of the aftermath and the atrocities become more and more distant and as Israel becomes remembered as something that has always been there, the window of peace will crack open a little bit more. When it does, I hope the globalized Generation Y, led by people like Mahmoud, feel the breeze of peace rather than shut the window completely.
Update (3/3/11): Mahmoud was cleared of all charges and released. Thrilled and deeply inspired by the tremendous effort of the PBSNews Hour, Seeds of Peace, The Daniel Pearl Foundation, iEarn, Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, Relief International, the We Are Family Foundation, and the GTLs!