The Conference that Changed My Life

          In July I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the Results International Conference.  As I sit here in the dark, my electricity has taken a leave of absence here at 4 am, I thought about my mindset leading up to the conference.  I went into it with the mindset that this was just another conference that I could attend; get some great information that would tie to my mission in life, the path that I was already on when I returned home.  Boy was I ever so wrong, and for my friends, they no that I never admit being wrong.  The Results International Conference changed my life, my mindset, and made me realize that the issues that I was dealing with a human being, a fierce advocate for those that could not find their voice was just skimming the surface.  I met people from the United Kingdom, Africa, and Australia.  I met individuals from Chicago, North Carolina, and Boston.  All of these people were speaking the same language, the language of love, the desire for change, and the need to end world poverty.  My new reality took my mindset and flipped it on its head.  So you must be thinking, what am I talking about?  I am talking about poverty at it’s core, I am talking about families that live paycheck to paycheck, parents that can not afford medical insurance, families that live at the poverty line and can barely afford their rent let alone feeding their children.  I am talking about the families that people pass judgment on because they go their state governments and ask for assistance to ensure that their children do not go hungry, that they have a house that is cooled in the summer and warm in the winter.  I am talking about families in Africa that had to bury their children because Aids claimed their young lives or they died from a vaccine preventable disease.  I am talking about families like mine that if the money stopped rolling in, the checks no longer came in, if one thing were to go out of whack, we would be doomed.

          The Results Conference was the mirror that I looked into and realized that the domestic things that they rally for affect my family and many of my friend’s families.  The Results Conference also helped me see that as American citizens we do not realize how fortunate we are to have medical treatment easily accessible, that we have healthy children, and that do not have epidemics that could be eradicated with a simple vaccine or a series of medications.   We strive to do the right things for our children, we strive to do the appropriate things for our neighbors, but I think that we often miss the fact that while we preach about the issues we have in our boarders, we do not realize that there are countries that have little food, they do not have vaccinations for their children, and they do not have money to help them pay their bills.  These are our global neighbors.  We have diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and pneumonia that affect our global neighbors and we are a global nation that travels to business and leisure.  That woman that you purchased a nice tapestry from on your vacation could have been able to make that tapestry because of Microcredit, small loans given to poor people in developing countries to help them better their circumstances through making small businesses.  These small loans help their families to survive.

          This is our reality, when you have a healthy family, you have a parent that works, you have a parent that stimulates the economy no matter how big or how small, and you have a family that can be self-sustaining.  When you have a family that is not healthy, you have the exact opposite.  We as American’s take for granted that everyone could just do better because we are a bootstrap country, the reality is, and this is not true.  It is not because we do not choose to do better, we are a nation of entitled individuals that over the past three years have turned away from being our brother’s keeper to being our brothers judge.  We as American’s do not realize how fortunate we are and we ride the tide of politics and in those messages families get lost.  In the political message you will not see a family like mine portrayed.  You will not see the family that works so hard to tread water, to stay afloat, that what ever help we need, we are willing to go after no matter what our friends or families have to say because our children’s survival is important.  During the Results Conference sitting in on the Domestic issues, it struck home that the families that they spoke of were like mine, were like families that I know, were families in my neighborhood, my town.  They are families that need the Earned Income Tax Credit that Ronald Regan was a fan of and the Additional Child Tax credit protected.  They are families that need childcare vouchers protected so that they can work.  The face of poverty and government assistance is that you are lazy; you sit on your butt, and wait for government benefits to roll in.  That is a sliver of a population.  Parents that need food benefits are parents like me that do their best to make ends meet, but you have more bills than month.  They are families that once held great jobs in the banking industry or construction industry and can’t find a job because they are over qualified for the positions that they apply for.  They are the families that are passionate and would give their last bit of energy to help their fellow man.

          The message that I am giving is simple, we as people forget that we are our brother’s keeper.  We forget that while we are talking dollars, we are forgetting that we are often talking lives.  When we talk about vaccines, we are often talking about children that could go on to get an education and become a doctor, lawyer, or teacher.  We are talking about simple common courtesy of ensuring that we leave a better world than the one we found and the sad reality is that we as a global nation are not doing that.  We are so concerned with me, me, me, that we have forgotten that there is a bigger world than just what’s inside of our four walls.  We donate money to save animals before we think about donating money to save children through backpack donations that send home rations from their schools to feed them over the weekend.  We are loosing site of what is important to us, for us, and how to protect our children’s future.  Now, I started this blog post to talk about my mission with Shot@Life and our global mission to provide vaccines to children in developing countries, and I realized, there are children in our borders that have not been vaccinated.  There are families in our border whose parent travels abroad and brings home diseases with them that should have been eradicated along time ago.  There are families that in their misguided, yes I said misguided attempt, to protect their children by not vaccinating them on schedule, they put the rest of us at risk as well as their own children.  And then at the end of the day, these are families that are trying to find a way to ensure that their children make it into their future by any means necessary yet do not take the time to think that there are families in other corners of the world doing the same.

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Shot@Life Moms on Capital Hill

          We, I say we because it is myself included, need to be our brother’s keeper.  I can not agree with your politics all the time and I can not say that my morals align with yours, but I can say that as a nation, as a people, we should think beyond our borders and realize that our economy is a global economy and when people in other countries do well, they have healthy economies, and when they don’t do well, we don’t have healthy economies.  We can blame our governments all that we want to, but the reality is that when see disaster coming down the pipeline in the means of failed policy that will affect everyday working American’s and citizens of other countries, we have to be the voice that says, “This is not good for our people.”  Put aside parties, put aside politics of the present day and donate some of your time energy and efforts to protect families.

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