Confessions of an Eternal Optimist

I had the privilege to visit India as part of a tour group. We witnessed the breathtaking cultural diversity of this fascinating country, seeing for ourselves the contrasting lifestyles of its multitudinous people; some living in the poorest of street conditions whilst others bathed in the splendour of their marble mansions.

 

No matter how bad things seemed to be for the countless thousands in the urban slums, one thing became clear very quickly. It was the overriding sense of hope and optimism, of belief that things will work out, of faith in a higher power, of gratitude just to be alive one more day.

 

It was a sobering lesson in life – we must keep trying to create a better world, whatever the odds stacked against us.

 

The happiest people we saw were also the poorest: people who didn’t have shoes for their feet or a roof over their heads. People with absolutely nothing, trying to survive by selling what would be classed as rubbish in, dare I say, more developed countries.

 

But still they smiled. And sang and danced. Not for our benefit, but their own. Happy to be alive, no matter what misery, disease or injustice life was throwing at them.

 

During the tour, I heard unhappy people complaining about their white wine not being chilled enough: or because they spotted a cockroach in the five star restaurant of their luxury hotel. Meanwhile, not more than twenty metres away from the hotel lobby, families were sleeping on the pavement under a sheet of discarded plastic. Yet still they smiled and greeted us warmly.

 

As I sat in the departure lounge reflecting on what I’d seen in India, I wanted to do something that would celebrate the joy of being human: help the people who needed it most: channel the power of eternal optimism into putting right the things we are doing wrong to the world and to each other.

 

But where to start?   

 

 

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I have a confession to make – I am proud to be a Rotarian. The genuine values and honest approach of this voluntary organisation suit perfectly my convictions as an eternal optimist. With over one million ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the service of others before themselves, the mission of Rotary is truly a worthwhile humanitarian cause. Rotary really does make a difference where it is needed most.

 

And because of Rotary, I have been fortunate to hear some inspirational speakers all over the world. Indeed, it was one such presentation by the leader of a charity called the World Toilet Organisation that gave me the idea of where to start.  

 

Over 40% of our global population – 2.6 billion people – have no access to a toilet, even today. The vast majority cannot just turn on a tap but have to carry water from a well. They have no electricity so their world goes dark when the sun goes down. They have no medical facilities or access to the hospitals we take for granted.  

 

In India, many such people flock to the cities in hope of finding a better way of life, only to end up in the labyrinth of urban slums. There they can become the victims of crime and human trafficking or prostitution. Kidnapping and even slavery are rife. Yet despite it all, their hopes and dreams shine through.

 

The Rotary Club of Mumbai Necklace has established a project to help the survivors of human trafficking and prostitution in their city and rehabilitate them before re-entry into society.

I want to help this project by raising awareness of the great voluntary work they are doing and by donating $1 for each sold copy of my new book, A Litany of Good Intentions.

 

It is set in India, challenges head-on the need to eradicate poverty and the despicable trade in slavery and human trafficking. Although it is a work of fiction, the main protagonists come face to face with the horrors that feed on poverty, social injustice, cruelty and fear. Unlike the strength of the Rotary wheel, this evil thrives in a never ending cycle of despair and desperation.  

 

Our spirit, our very humanity, demands that we do something to help the people trapped in a miserable world not of their making. Wherever they are; whatever it takes.

 

Comments

Andrew - I strongly support what you are saying in this blog - we need to get humanity back as a driving force fo society, especially in the West where modern capitalism has forgotten the concept.

In Brazil a couple of years ago we witnessed the same concepts of ultra rich and poor.  Every night at dinner in a resturant we ordered an extra meal as a takeaway and then gave it to one of the homeless on the street - not a big act but one that was very appreciated by the recipient.

Worldskills, an organisation that I had over 12 wonderful years on involvement, has a foundation, and past competitors are funded by the foundation to go into villages in India and build sanitation systems for them, at no cost to the village.

These little examples, always give me hope, that us "ordinary" people do care and cannot ignoreour "neighbour" who is suffering.

 

Thanks for writing about such an important topis - beautifully written as well.

Thanks Bruce, I appreciate your comments and support to continue this line of fiction. There's a lot more to come I can assure you, cheers, Andrew

One of things that made Michael Chrichton a favourite author of mine was that he wrote stories that explored social themes. For example the impact of technology amid rising tensions between US and Japan in Rising Sun. In your writing you also explore complex issues - social injustice and inequality. Michael Chricthon attracted a lot of criticism for his theory on climate change in State of Fear. The challenge we writers face is to let readers find their own answers while we explore the issues and imagine possible outcomes. But that's the fun of it too! Your facts are great...40% of the world's population don't have proper sanitation came as a real shock.