Faith is personal; Religion is man-made.

And I mean, man.

Millions spent on concrete, wood and bronze in place of charming pine and cypress trees, only to build the largest, boldest and most domineering of all statues, paralleling the builder’s ego perhaps.

Is that what Buddha would have wanted?

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If God exists he isn’t just churches and mathematics.

He’s the forest, he’s the desert.

He’s the ice caps, that are dying.

He’s the ghetto and the Museum of Fine Arts.

– Mary Oliver, At the River Clarion

True nation-builders in Myanmar

Myingyan

Working at an international organization focusing on the poorest of the poor “bottom billion” farmers demands grappling with two different realities on a daily basis. And especially so for a fundraiser like myself. How can one individual be worth 6 billion dollars? And another has to borrow money for a meal?

But don’t pity the poor just because they may have to borrow money. Here, we don’t speak of the culture of poverty. We talk instead about the spirit of entrepreneurship. People here know how to do business. Despite the five decades of isolation and economic hardships, the farmers we work with remain resilient. This resiliency is nothing short of great inspiration.

Then, there are all these international visitors that swing by my office. Movers, shakers, and high net worth individuals under 40, with their titles, awards and impressive resumes. How does someone from a genteel family with an opportunity to attend an Ivy League deserve more credit and public recognition than a single mom small holder farmer that dares to raise two children with grace and generosity even in the most economically desolate place of the world?

Just some Mary Oliver-induced thoughts on a late Friday afternoon at work.

Song of the Builders.

On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God –

a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside

this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope

it will always be like this
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.

– Mary Oliver, Why I Wake Early (2004)

Hudson River