The old phrase “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” is often translated as “The voice of the people is the voice of God”. People have argued whether this is true, or if it is, in what way is it true. Is it simply that when the voice of the people gets so loud, you cannot stop it, any more than you could stop the sun from rising? Is it a strong endorsement of pure democracy? Is there something else?
I was thinking about this recently in terms of the memorial services for homeless people that died in 2010 that I attended recently. I wrote about this a little bit in my blog post The Face of God. In that blog post, I mentioned an African Bishop who said that at his church, instead of saying “peace” to one another, they say, “I love the face of God that I see in you today.”
Well, if we can see God’s face in the face of the homeless people around us, can we hear God’s voice in a similar way? Perhaps. The following YouTube video has rapidly gone viral and started getting national attention.
Stop and watch the video before reading on.
Back? Okay. I saw a few people mention this online yesterday. Then, driving home, I heard a story about it on NPR. I looked up the video so I could share it here.
But, there is an important update to the story.
UPDATE-FINAL: Well everyone. You can give yourselves and Ted a high-five. He's being given offers hand-over-fist over the air.
What is more important is what comes after this, however. It captures what drives good journalists and activists.
My request to all. Whenever you run across a story such as this, don't assume it'll take a life of its own, on its own. It won't. It can't. There are too many other stories that drown out the one before it.
You need to spend time to get that story and its word out to many. If you care, you'll do it.
Keep the faith, pay forward and always lend a hand; even if you're the one who needs it.
Have you heard the voice of God recently?
An important part of getting up to speed in my new job as Social Media Manager for Community Health Center, Inc., is to start building up connections with people and organizations that can add a lot to the online discussion about how social media can help improve communities’ health. So, I’m looking at who is retweeting @chcconnecticut or tweeting messages of interest to @chcconnecticut and who I can connect with.
One of the big events last week was CHC receiving half a million dollars in grants from GE Foundation’s “GE Developing Health”. Tweets about the GE Developing Health grants used the #gedh hashtag. One person who mentioned #gedh and @chcconnecticut is @andrea_doane. Her profile says she is a “Communication professional with interests in CSR, leadership and engagement” For those that don’t recognize the acronym CSR, by the context, I assume she is talking about corporate social responsibility. Given that most of her tweets are about GE or social media, I suspect she does some sort of social media work for GE or the GE foundation. CSR is very important in my book, and it looks like Andrea is a person well worth following.
Another area that is very important is the National Association of Community Health Centers. They can be found on twitter at @nachc. @LNReynolds describes herself on Twitter as “Government Affairs and Advocacy for the Ohio and National Associations of Community Health Centers”. She liked a post on the CHC Facebook page about Dr. Howard Koh’s appearance on CHC Radio. @chcradio, or Conversations On Health Care, is a CHC project that airs on radio stations across the country. Dr Koh is an Assistant Secreatry for Health at HHS. @LNReynolds has a lot of interesting tweets.
One of those tweets was announcing that @aabayasekara NACHS’s “Tweet of the Week”. @aabayasekara describes herself as a “Bookworm interested in FQHCs, nonprofit management & marketing, and wandering the planet.” The acronym FQHC stands for Federally Qualified Health Center. @CHCConnecticut is a FQHC.
One final account to follow is @HealthCampCT. There are a bunch of interesting people working together to bring a barcamp style unconference about health care to Connecticut. They are tweeting with the #hcct hashtag. Most of the tweets are likely to show up from individuals using the #hcct hashtag. However in some cases there may tweets from the group as a whole coming from the @HealthCampCT account. In addition, it can provide a nice centralized place for lists and other twitter connectivity.
There is a lot going on in social media in health care, and this is just scratching the surface. If you know of other good social media in health care accounts that I should follow, please let me know.
Have you watched ‘Validation’?
Take the time to watch this video. Then ask yourself, what are you doing to validate others.
Here is one way to help. Help-Portrait 2010.
Help-Portrait is a community of photographers, coming together across the world to use their photography skills to give back to their local community.
On or around 04 December, photographers around the world will be grabbing their cameras, finding people in need and taking their picture. When the prints are ready, the photographs get delivered.
Yep. It really is that easy.
Here’s a video from 2009:
It isn’t just in New Haven. There are efforts in Bridgeport as well. For more details, check out Mark Smith's blog post about Help Portrait in Bridgeport in 2009 as well as the Bridgeport Public Allies Community Portrait Session to raise awareness for affordable housing in Bridgeport, CT. If you are interested in the Bridgeport efforts this year, check out the Bridgeport Group on the Help Portrait website.
You can help validate people as well. As Mark said in his blog post, “Don't Take Pictures, Give Them!!!”
Between the heat, technology problems, a bunch of funerals, planning Social Web Week, and a couple of mailing lists that have been pretty noisy recently, I feel like I’m falling way behind. I haven’t been reading emails and replying as quickly as I would like. I haven’t been reading as many other websites as I would like. I haven’t been spending as much time writing as I would like. I have spent a bit more time reading, and reflecting, and even relaxing in the pool, all of which is good. I’ve also spent a bit of time worrying about getting enough billable hours.
All of this brings me to some interesting questions. What is the proper work-life balance? How does a recession affect the proper balance? If you’re self-employed and working online, what are appropriate work hours? What if your work involves writing and socializing online? From a writing perspective, what is the right balance between writing, reflecting, reading (both online and off), and experiencing? Perhaps even more interestingly, how do we make these determinations?
I often go back to an old labor union chant, “Our life is more than our work, and our work is more than our job.” They overlap. They influence one another, but too often people confuse the three different ideas.
One idea that is always helpful within a group is to examine the group’s primary task. On one mailing list, there have been a lot of emails that have felt off-topic. People have taken time away from the group, and in extreme cases left the group because they were not getting what they wanted from the group. One friend suggested that there are two useful questions that need to be posed, “What do you think your purpose was in making that contribution?” and “What was the result that it produced?”
Sometimes, we may make contributions to groups we are part of, not out of our desire to help the group with its primary task, but out of some personal needs. We may even try to convince ourselves that we are really seeking the help the group. Sometimes, we might even be on task, but ineffective. That is where the second question comes in.
Of course, this second question can be more problematic. We cannot always clearly attribute certain results to the actions we have taken. Sometimes we may attribute results to our actions when they were really caused by something else, or we may convince ourselves that the certain results were due to our actions when they were really due to something else.
Underlying all of this is how we understand the purpose to our lives. It is easy to look at this in terms of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the most basic level, there are the physical needs; food, water, shelter, etc. Higher up the hierarchy there needs of feeling safe, loved, having self esteem and reaching some sort of self-actualization. Yet even in this, there are questions about how fine our food needs to be or how comfortable our shelter needs to be. Ascetic mystics who seem focused on self-actualization, eating the simplest fare and living in the sparsest conditions come to mind.
Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning” provides another view to explore. How was it that people could keep on in concentration camps? Where did people get ability to help others in these difficult situations while at the same time, others tried to take advantage of those around them?
As I relaxed at the town pool the other day, a woman talked about reading the book “Eat, Pray, Love” and I thought about how this book relates to our search for balance. Is there something going on in our world right now that is leading more of us to renew a search for balance?
How did September 11th affect Americans’ view of the meaning of their lives? How was this affected by the politics of the last decade and how did the politics of the last decade shape our views of the meaning of our lives? What impact has the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had on the way we understand our lives?
Recently, I reconnected with a bunch of old friends from Grace Church in New York City from the 1980s. In that circle and others, I used to ponder parts of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. “What is the chief end of Man?” “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” As I listened to the discussion of “Eat, Pray, Love”, it sounded like the author was touching this idea of enjoying God forever in a broader tradition than that of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
“What is the chief end of Man?” Perhaps this is a question that we need to be asking our political leaders. Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont are fighting for our votes as they seek to become the Democratic nominees for Governor in the State of Connecticut. They have sniped at one another. They have offered ideas about how they would address the problems our state faces. Underneath all of this is the question of what is their chief end?
This is perhaps even more pointed when we look at the GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Tom Foley seeking to prevent his opponent from receiving public financing. Does this reflect some broader effort to glorify God and enjoy God forever? Is it part of some effort to make help others find meaning in their lives? I suspect Foley supporters might try to spin it that way. It is about making sure that the letter of the law is followed, whether or not it matches the spirit of the law. It is about trying to prevent the government from distributing money to help voters learn about the candidates, because of a belief that money can be better spent by individuals, especially those who can spend millions of their own money to try and influence political discourse in our state and country.
Meanwhile, I, and others, need to attend to the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy. I need to find more billable hours to earn bread for my table. Others need to get more people visiting their businesses. Social Web Week seems to be a good way to focus on this.
On Saturday, I went to the Tweetcrawl at Miya’s Sushi in New Haven. Miya’s sushi focuses on great food that is sustainable. It has a feeling of meeting people at different levels in Maslow’s hierarchy. Social media can be a tool to help us find friendship and self-esteem and connect with others also seeking self-actualization. It can also be a tool to help people take advantage of one another, and we all need to make our choices about how we use social media.
Now, I’ve had my brief time of reflection and writing. “What do I think my purpose was in making this contribution?” Some of it is simply fulfilling a need to reflect and write. It is who I am. Some of it, perhaps, is about some need to try and get others to stop and reflect; reflect about how their lives may or may not be glorifying God, enjoying God, or helping others do so. I doubt it is something that would result in a new billable contract, but I wouldn’t mind that either.
As to “What was the result that it produced?” we will have to wait and see. What do you think?
Those of us who grew up in the Pepsi Generation, who were encouraged to reach out and touch someone and who wanted to teach the world to sing, may find it all too easy to be cynical. We may too quickly dismiss words as mere slogans, but what if it’s not all just slogans?
Sunday morning, I sat in Christ Church in Tarrytown, NY. The priest was a friend from my early days in New York City. Many of us were getting together to remember when we all went to Grace Church in Manhattan. As we waited for the service to begin, Kim asked another long time friend of mine what was Grace Church really all about? Why did so many young people flock to it in the 1980s?
Kirk spoke about a Priest there who struggled hard with transforming an aging blue book relic into a community that really believed in its name, Grace.
What if God really does love us that much? What if it isn’t just words that we mouth on Sunday morning, but something that we believed to the very core of our being? What if we really are forgiven for all those things that we did and shouldn’t have done, and for all those things that we should have done that we just never did get around to doing? What if we really could find a way to love our enemies?
After September 11th, it seems to have gotten much harder to love our enemies. As oil continues to spread across the Gulf of Mexico and the heat soars, it seems harder to believe that there is a God that can clean up our messes and still show us love. As talking heads spew their venom on cable news shows, it becomes nearly impossible to imagine that someone could love President Obama, Sen. Reid, Speaker Pelosi, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck at the same time.
Yet in those wonderful days of Grace, we did believe that God actually did love us, not as some greeting card slogan but in a life changing manner. Friends became priest and missionaries. They took God’s love with them to their daily lives. They talked about Grace Church at the water coolers and people flooded in.
The decades have passed. We have celebrated each other’s weddings and the births of children. We have comforted each other as marriages ended in divorce and as loved ones have lost battles with horrible diseases. We have had successes and failures. Yet through all of this, the questions remains, what if it’s not all just slogans? What if God really does love us that much?
So, we gathered in Tarrytown and saw old friends. We caught up with one another. We talked about needing to stay more in touch with one another. Kate set up a Facebook group for us.
I’ve wondered what happens to Churches on Main Street as youth gather online instead on Main Street. I checked in at Christ Church Tarrytown on Foursquare, but few others have. I’ve wondered what happens when the discussions around the water cooler moves to discussions on Facebook. How do stories of radical grace get told today?
A key interest for me is telling our stories online. I’ve been interested in the history of revivalism in America. The Great Awakenings have led not only to great religious revivals, but also to major political and social changes. Will the twenty first century bring us a Great Digital Awakening? What might that look like? As people start looking for greater authenticity in their online interactions, especially their interaction with commercial brands, and as people start looking for greater transparency, especially from their governments, will this also affect their religious interactions online? And will these interactions further affect people’s interactions with brands and governments online?
Can our words of faith along with other words online be more than just slogans?