Posts Tagged ‘humanitarian’

Are There Any Questions?

November 28, 2015

it-was-on-fire-when-i-lay-down-on-it-book-cover-robert-fulghum





This simple story, from Robert Fulghum’s book, It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It, is a profound reminder of the healing, purifying and transformative power of forgiveness and the innate goodness of humankind.








ARE THERE ANY QUESTIONS?
by Robert Fulghum

“Are there any questions?” An offer that comes at the end of college lectures and long meetings. Said when an audience is not only overdosed with information, but when there is no time left anyhow. At times like that you sure do have questions. Like, “Can we leave now?” and “What the hell was this meeting for?” and “Where can I get a drink?”

The gesture is supposed to indicate openness on the part of the speaker, I suppose, but if in fact you do ask a question, both the speaker and the audience will give you drop-dead looks. And some fool—some earnest idiot—always asks. And the speaker always answers. By repeating most of what he has already said.

But if there is a little time left and there is a little silence in response to the invitation, I usually ask the most important question of all: “What is the Meaning of Life?”

You never know, somebody may have the answer, and I’d really hate to miss it because I was too socially inhibited to ask. But when I ask, it’s usually taken as a kind of absurdist move—people laugh and nod and gather up their stuff and the meeting is dismissed on that ridiculous note.

Once and only once, I asked that question and got a serious answer. One that is with me still.

First, I must tell you where this happened, because the place has a power of its own. In Greece again.

Near the village of Gonia, on a rocky bay of the island of Crete, sits a Greek Orthodox monastery. Alongside it, on land donated by the monastery, is an institute dedicated to human understanding and peace, and especially to rapprochement between Germans and Cretans. An improbable task, given the bitter residue of wartime.

This site is important, because it overlooks the small airstrip at Maleme where Nazi paratroopers invaded Crete and were attacked by (more…)

Bill Austin: Businessman, Philanthropist, Hero

April 29, 2014
Businessman and philanthropist Bill Austin

Businessman and humanitarian Bill Austin


It is always an honor to interview great people who are making a difference in the world. The mission of Bill Austin, CEO of Starkey Hearing Technologies, is nothing short of heroic.

At the start of our interview for Twin Cities Business magazine, Bill told me, “As a young man, I felt I belonged to the world, but I didn’t know what that meant.” More than a million disadvantaged, hearing-impaired men, women and children around the world are thankful that it didn’t take him long to gain clarity about his destiny.





BILL AUSTIN: STARKEY HEARING TECHNOLOGIES
INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE AWARD

Inspired by Albert Schweitzer’s work in Africa, eighteen-year-old Bill Austin decided to become a missionary doctor. Leaving his family in Oregon, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1960. To earn tuition money, he worked as an ear-mold technician at his uncle’s downtown Minneapolis hearing aid company. “As I was doing that work, I thought about how hearing aids could be manufactured more efficiently so people might hear better,” Austin recalls. “And I kept saying to myself, ‘Don’t think about those things; you’re going to be a doctor.’”

One day he was called in to help fit an elderly man with a hearing aid and was deeply moved by the man’s joyous reaction. That night, Austin laid on a single bed in his rented room at 2770 Dean Boulevard in Minneapolis and stared at the ceiling. “I said to myself out loud, ‘Bill, the reason you want to be a doctor is so you can help people. If you do this work, you’ll be able to help people and you won’t kill anyone; as a doctor, you’re sure to kill many.’”

Realizing that a business employing teams of people could accomplish more than even the most well-intentioned of doctors, Austin abandoned his medical plans. “I changed the course of my life instantly from that one looking-at-the-ceiling (more…)