We are not powerless


I was Squidooing around over the weekend and came across a not-very-good lens promoting some kind of affiliate marketing product. The lens made essentially no impact at all, since it was just a series of pleas to click through to something I believe will offer little value for too much money.

At the end of the lens was one of those photo-and-caption montages that gets emailed around, this one in support of the U.S. armed forces.

One of the photos was of a man in civilian clothes, my guess would be in the streets of Baghdad, carrying an unconscious child whose feet had been blown off.

Two things.

One, you may not, ever, use a photo of a maimed child to sell anything other than a remedy to help that child or children like her. The fact that it won’t work is completely beside the point.

It’s wrong. There’s not really any other way to put it.

The other thing is, as usual when I run across something like this, I couldn’t sleep after seeing her picture. I don’t have the first idea how to stop children from being maimed and murdered in Baghdad or Sierra Leone or Darfur.

But I do know one way to help alleviate the suffering of some children who need help. www.smiletrain.org trains doctors in poor countries to perform cleft palate surgery on children whose families cannot afford it. Without the surgery, these children face hunger (many cannot eat well, and babies can die because they are unable to suck) and, maybe worse, extreme social isolation. Many are abandoned by their parents. They form few or no human bonds. There is no more horrible fate for a child.

Smiletrain will solve that problem for one human being for $250. If $250 is a lot of money (of course it is), any contribution at all will help pay for things like equipment, training, and anesthesia.

I donate 10% of my income income to Smiletrain and charities like it, and I can recommend this practice highly. On days when you see no point at all to what you do, you can look back and count the number of children’s lives you have saved. Words rarely fail me, but I have none to describe this emotion to you.

We are not powerless, even when it feels like we are. There is something you can do today to alleviate someone’s suffering. It doesn’t have to be this suggestion, but something. A contribution, an action, some words that need to be said. Please go do it now.


  1. Naomi Dunford says:

    Hi there,

    I just signed up for your RSS feed and found this. Fantastic! I sent them the total that was available on my credit card.

    Working in marketing, you see so much money getting thrown around on useless junk. I have a one-year-old, and it’s easy to forget how blessed I am that he is safe and healthy.

    Thanks for such an inspiring post.

  2. sonia_simone says:

    Wow, Naomi, I am honored that you would take action that way.

    It’s funny, I don’t actually think marketing is a stupid or evil endeavor (usually)–I think marketing is communication, which is vital & good. But there are those moments when you realize you’re making yourself nuts over something that’s not all that important in the scheme of things. Anyway, thank you for taking action.

  3. Karen Davis says:

    I agree that we need to be very careful with how we use the evidence of another person’s suffering. I get upset with the need to intrude on private feelings here in the US. I think we need to balance the “need to know” with respect for the dignity of each person.

    I applaud your transition in this piece from hopelessness “I can’t do anything to help” to something that you CAN do. Wonderful! Too many people get stuck at what they can’t do and never see the incredible opportunities all around them every day to profoundly touch the life of some one person.

  4. Naomi Dunford says:

    You’re so right about marketing being communication. I honestly feel like I have the most amazing job in the world. I run a marketing company that only takes on microbusinesses as clients – businesses with fewer than 5 employees. Those guys inspire me. It’s when you read some of the industry publications and you just want to say, “Yuck.”

    Thanks again. Awesome site. Loved the pink thing.

  5. Tristan says:

    I love your mentality on life! The world is so much larger then some people think. Giving back is a necessity!

    Tristans last blog post..Why Blogging is Like Rapping

  6. You’re a real inspiration. Thanks Sonia.
    Sue Wellington´s last [type] ..Stockholm- Planet of the Animals


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