Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Responsibility Project

What I'm about to post about is an idea that is especially pertinent on today, September 11th. Right after 9/11 it felt like everyone went out of their way to be nice to help each other however possible. People everywhere put aside their differences and worked together for the common good. I encourage you to check out the rest of this post, it will make you feel good on a day when we have the memories of so many lost lives to honor.

Have you ever seen the movie Pay It Forward? It's a fantastic movie about a young boy who sets into motion the idea of paying forward a kindness to someone else once kindness has been done for you. It was really inspiring to watch the movie and dream of the ways that life would improve if everyone put this simple concept of paying it forward into effect. It's a great idea and a great movie.

Well, Liberty Mutual had a commercial a while back that explored the same idea, the idea of personal responsibility. It's a great and inspiring commercial. Yes, I know how hokey that sounds, but it truly is inspiring. When I watch it, I just feel overwhelmed at how simple it is just to be NICE, to help people, to make people's lives better. I've posted the video for you here of the original commercial, if you haven't seen it, it's worth pushing play.

Apparently I'm not the only one who felt that, in a sea of all kinds of junk on TV, watching this commercial was an extremely useful minute of my time. Liberty Mutual received floods of emails in response to that commercial. It was so overwhelming, in fact, that they decided to create an entire website devoted to this idea of personal responsibility, and the inherent desire that we have to help other people.

It's a cool website, with the title The Responsibility Project, and it features short films to help you discuss the concept of personal responsibility with your children. Some are animated, some are not, and all of the films detail in their descriptions what age group they are most appropriate for. I probably spent about 45 minutes on the site, watching the different short films (I love The Lighthouse) and just generally feeling inspired about wanting to make a difference in other people's lives.

I encourage you to check out The Responsibility Project with your kids and spend some time watching the films and discussing what it means to make a difference.

With that, I want to leave you with one of my very favorite short stories. It has been re-written and spread around in various forms, but this is it, in it's original form, written by by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977). Enjoy!

The Starfish Story

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?" The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean." "I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man. To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die." Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

This post brought to you by Mom Central.


Seeryus Mama said...

I love these commercials...very inspiring!

Loren Eiseley was from Nebraska. I studied his work in a college class that I took. I too, love the starfish story.

Thank you for this post...

Linda said...

Love the story! Thank you for posting it! What a wonderful thing for each of us to realize that we CAN make a difference... one person at a time :)