A Perspective for KQED

Dear friends,

I plan to submit this personal perspective to NPR (KQED in the Bay Area) for an on-the-air reading in and around the time of this coming Thanksgiving holiday but first thought I would share it with all of you.

I think it’s an important message to get out to the public which hopefully will change some hearts for the better while at the same time bringing us a little bit more notoriety and good press for the work of The Forgotten International.

If you have time, please read it over. I hope you like some of my thoughts on the importance of giving. Nevertheless, if you have suggestions as to changes I might consider, let me know. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Tom Nazario

Founder and President

 

I Am Not A Hero

During this time of the year when so many of us are asked to give thanks for all we have received, I wish to say that there is no need for those I have tried to help over the years to thank me. I have led a blessed life and although I have worked hard nearly all my life–from the time I was a paperboy to the work I do today–I have never regretted getting up in the morning to go to work. For, you see, I have always found time to play, made many friends, had the love of my mother, and a job that was meaningful. What a blessing indeed.

Thanksgiving, however, is this time of the year in which I am most aware of the blessing associated with not only the life I have had, but what I do today. Let me explain. I live some 60 miles from my office, and every morning as I drive into the city of San Francisco for work, I see so many people living lives of quiet desperation, cold and sleeping on the city sidewalks with seemingly little to protect them from the elements and the often harsh difficulties of life. I also see parents waiting at bus stops in the cold with their sleepy children trying to get them off to daycare or school before they themselves have to punch a clock at work, only to work long hours for not enough money to pay for childcare or make their own lives any easier. Often too, through my work I am able to travel to countries all around the world where many live on the edge between life and death and suffer a great deal. On the other hand, each morning I wake up, leave my warm bed and jump into my very comfortable Mercedes, turn on my seat-heater and stereo, and drive to my very nice office.

Yes, my days are free from the anxieties often associated with a difficult life. When I get to work, I sit at my desk at my foundation and write checks to help some of the poorest people in the world, but, in doing so, realize that my actions will only make a tiny dent in what the world really needs. I know too that the money that I give away is often not mine. It is money that truly kind and generous people have given to me to give to others. Nor has the work I do cost me any significant diminution in my personal standard of living. Yet, each year, I get so many thank you notes laced with words that speak of me as a savior or some kind of hero. The truth is I am by no means a hero, for I have given up nothing in my effort to help others. It is those who have given up their time to care for the sick at a senior center or the teacher, service worker, or the simple citizen who does something over and above what was required of them to help another who are the true heroes among us.

The Heroes Award Program of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, after years of acknowledging persons they have selected as heroes from around the country, have done so only after considering these factors: first, that their act of heroism came to them while under no obligation to act,  and second that in taking action they felt the need to leave a place of safety to place themselves at risk of death or serious injury in order to save the life of another. Again, I have given up nothing, nor have I placed myself in any particular risk of harm, but instead have received so much joy through the work I do. It is I who should thank others for giving me the opportunity to help a world that is in need of so much help.

We all have the ability to give in some way, but those of us who have been blessed, either through hard work or good fortune, are under a greater responsibility to do more, and it is during this season of giving that we should take on this responsibility with vigor, for, as many have discovered, it is in giving to others that we receive far more than we give. Hence, please rejoice in this opportunity. Your generosity toward others will bring many blessings, as well as new friends and some kind words on that day when you are called upon to leave this world–a day that comes to all of us–for on that day few will care about how much money you had in your wallet, for what will be most important is how much love you had in your heart.

Give securely online or mail a check to:

The Forgotten International

P.O. Box 192066, San Francisco, CA 94119

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