Change the World, Yes You.

With Martin Luther King Day (a National Day of Service) on the near horizon, it’s fitting that I’m in the middle of re-reading The Lightning Thief with my son. Lightning Thief

The book gets under my skin, asserting that  the Greek myths aren’t myths at all, but true and at work as we live and breathe — gods and monsters, alike. Earthquakes and thunderstorms are the result of gods at war, the entrance to the Underworld is near the Hollywood sign. (Cheap shot.)

The first time we read the book together, I fell so deeply into its world, that I came to suspect everyone. I wondered if the friendly waiter at Fritto Misto was really a monster in disguise. I strongly suspected that all the “super-humans” over the ages, from Marie Curie to Jackie Robinson to Sarah Chang, were demi-gods, like the book’s 12-year-old hero. What else could explain their legendary accomplishments?

On the one hand, it’s a healthy delusion: if they’re demi-gods, I have an excuse for not yet achieving any world-shaking accomplishments.

On the other hand, in the unlikely event that there are no demi-gods, that the book is pure fiction, that Martin Luther King and Einstein and Picasso and Tallchief, were mortals, I’m screwed.

I have no excuse. We’re all potential all-stars. Uh-oh.

I once heard a speaker say, “Everyone in the history of the world has only been one person.” Clearly not a believer in demi-gods. His point was a retort to the oft-asked, “I’m just one person; what can one person do?” Everyone in the history of the world has only been one person. Each of us has something to offer, some gift to give. We don’t have to inspire masses to engage in civil disobedience and help change a nation, but we should recognize that we have the potential to do it.


It’s daunting to realize you have no existential excuse for hanging in the background with a box of cookies and a good book. I, for one, am daunted every day. But the flip side to “daunted” is “inspired.” I might write myself a note and stick it on my wall: “If she could do it, so can I.”

Not knowing what your gift should be can induce a case of paralysis. Indecision is a tough flu to kick. It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to start somewhere. Just pick something.

Okay. On Monday, MLK Jr. Day, a school holiday to honor not just a man, but a movement for equality and justice, I’m going to do it. I will pick myself up off the couch, wrest my boys away from their new Kinect game, fight the forces of inertia that conspire to keep us all in pajamas, and we will do SOMETHING. Volunteer at a beach clean-up, or serve a meal and gather warm, clean clothes for homeless men and women on skid row, or even host a lemonade stand for a charity. Something. Because each of us has something to give, and the world still needs a lot of stuff done. And none of us has an excuse. Damn you, Percy Jackson! I knew you were too good to be true.

(The worst/best part? Now that I’ve shared this I have to stick to it. Oy. Quick, tell me what you’re going to do for our National Day of Service, and you’ll have to stick to it, too.)

6 thoughts on “Change the World, Yes You.

  1. I love that book…it also makes me frustrated with myself because I had a similar concept almost 20 years … aimed at girls…about a modern-day teen who discovers she is descended from Greek Muses who expect her to begin an apprenticeship and help them inspire people on earth. I just finished a draft and entered it in a contest…but it took SO LONG to get here and it still has miles to go….

    My pledge for Monday is to identify three more organizations where I can donate and perhaps read aloud my children’s picture book Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs – where it will help children suffering from loss or separation anxiety. Suggestions welcome! I’m also going to watch MLK’s famous speech with my kids… And talk about dreams we have for this world and ways we can make them reality!!!

    Thank you so much for the post – it is a great motivator!! xo Susan
    Thank you for telling it like it is

    1. I love your ideas for Monday, Susan! Where have you donated your awesome book already? (Please reply with a link to it, too.) Children’s hospitals come to mind. Another idea — Ed Edelman Children’s Court in East L.A., the court for dependency hearings, probably could give them to kids who are there for hearings to determine if their parents are fit to keep them, or be placed in foster care.

      1. Hello, Laura – thanks for the prompt reply and suggestions!
        the website for the book is
        The dependency court is a great idea. We have donated several hundred copies so far to lots of places, including: the Oscar Litwak Foundation which supplies mobile play/reading carts for children’s hospitals…Operation Gratitude for kids whose parents have been deployed…hospice organizations…a friend at Sandy Hook School….Koreh LA’s wonderful literacy program…and to A Window Between Worlds which helps women and children in domestic violence shelters use art as a healing tool. I love giving it away to kids in need so much…need to learn how to sell it, too, so that we can sustain that end of things!

        Does Beyond Shelter still operate a headstart pre-school or community center? I’d love to go and read there and donate copies – but not sure who’d be in charge of that these days.
        Much love to you and all the wonderful positive change you are making AND inspiring! xoxo Susan

  2. I have been gathering clothing that I no longer want and depositing bags full in a bin by the Washington Crossing postoffice for those that need clothing. Does that count? You have been inspiring lots of us to be more thoughtful and take pleasure in your beautiful writing style. Also, you are raising two lovely, bright and socially aware boys. That counts! xxoo

    1. Clothes? Yep! Whenever you do something for others, it counts. Raising wonderful children, as you have done, also counts. Like we said as we made our wishes for the New Year, we have so much to be thankful for — family, health — and it makes those things all the more meaningful when we turn outside ourselves to the world beyond our family and help people who aren’t as blessed. xoxo

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