The creation of hope

Jogging around Green Lake in Seattle early this morning with my friend Mike, and we caught this stunning view of the sunrise. The air was still and calm, temperature just above freezing, the black bare branches of the trees framing the mirrored sky. A few minutes after Mike snapped this photo, we stopped by a dock so that Mike could practice -- with me as his trial audience -- a talk he will be giving soon to a philanthropy conference in another state. With this view behind him, Mike gave me a 4-minute speech. His partner Ric, he said, had struggled with AIDS and chronic depression for 25 years. Then one  day he walked into his bedroom, closed the door, and put a bullet through his head. The bullet, however, was not truly the cause of Ric's death. Rather, Ric died because he had lost hope, his most important possession. People who engage in philanthropy or activism for social justice are in the business of creating hope and deepening our ties to each other as a community. In doing so, we save the lives of people like Ric, and we save our own lives.

Green Lake at Dawn