You Must Act


No one serves up responsibility like the Dalai Lama. “It’s not enough to be compassionate. You must act” is one of his and my favorite mantras. Some of you may say “Hey, I could be responsible if I was surrounded by a Tibetan monk entourage.” Would he be so peaceful, so responsible if he was bogged down with the mundane of everyday life like going to work, doing taxes, Jack Russell terriers, spinning class, and cocktails with friends?

What does it take to be responsible over and above our daily responsibilities? To be responsible do we have to connect or is it enough to text in your $10 to Yele. Is that what the Dalai Lama means by “act”? If you believe that responsibility means more than giving money, what then? Following up? Following through?

In this world where tweeting and other forms of social networking are two-dimensional connection, what happens when a crisis needs a three dimensional response? Can we write regrets on the Haiti’s “Wall”? Will discussing the war in Afghanistan on AIM make it stop? Will musing about healthcare reform in a blog change the world?
Who are our “responsibility” role models? Athletes? Musicians? Contestants on “The Biggest Loser”? Maybe. For me it’s people who aren’t afraid to get down in the muck. The ones who stay to help with the dishes. The friend you can call no matter what.

A couple of weeks ago, Anderson Cooper became my “man of the year”. He seems like a guy who goes that extra mile. He arrived in Haiti the day after the earthquake and spent the next three weeks giving voice to the anguish. He could have stood by and “reported” but no, he stood in the rubble and made it real. He made sure we knew that desperate people are not “an angry crowd”. He told us stories of real people. The woman pulled out of rubble on day 11; Manley, the little boy rescued from a grave of boulders on day 13. He served it up raw.

I may be a bit biased about the “silver fox” since he lends his support to my agency’s biggest annual fundraiser, but even apart from that, Anderson strikes me as someone who acts. Hmmm, maybe I will invite him over for dinner and see if he offers to help clear the table. Or perhaps I’ll just write on his “wall”. Will tweet you later about all that!

Photo Credit:Jan Michael lhl

About The Author

Ms. Quattrochi is the Chief Executive Officer of Bailey House, an award winning community based organization that since 1983 pioneered permanent supportive housing for persons living with HIV/AIDS. Ms. Quattrochi, an advocate committed to housing as a human right, has worked for the rights of low income men and women living with HIV/AIDS and the communities that serve them to have access to housing, healthcare and HIV prevention. She serves on numerous national and local boards and is playing a key role in the development of national AIDS policy under the Obama administration as a member of the policy consortium briefing the President and his staff on issues critical to the epidemic here and globally.

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