sarahInstead of spending a budgeted $150,000 for a video for her song World’s on Fire, Canadian singer-songwriter and Lilith Fair founder Sarah McLachlan made the video on a shoestring and donated the budget to humanitarian projects that will make life better for thousands of people in 20 different countries around the world. Here’s the video, and here’s the list of projects. Brava!

And speaking of worlds on fire, if you haven’t already read Wall Street Journal reporter Farnaz Fassini’s e-mail From Baghdad, you owe yourself to read it now. This article, coming from a writer for the hawkish WSJ, will dispel any illusions you might have that:

  • Iraq is safe enough for people to venture outdoors, let alone carry on with their lives
  • Average Iraqis want US troops to stick around
  • The US and its selected Iraqi government successors are ‘in control’ in Iraq
  • The crisis in the country isn’t quickly disintegrating into civil war
  • Any significant progress has been made in rebuilding the hundreds of billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure inflicted by Bush’s ‘liberation’
  • Average Iraqis are grateful for the US intervention
  • There is any real hope for an orderly transition of power from US troops to an Iraqi security, military and police force
  • Sufficient oil flow will resume in the foseeable future to help start paying for the rebuilding of the Iraqi state, or to lessen the growing shortage of oil reserves and soaring cost of oil
  • There is any hope whatsoever for free and fair elections 90 days from now as scheduled, when the most influential power blocs in the country are either banned from or boycotting the election, and when potential voters know that voting means risking your life

Thanks to Dynamic Doug and Mousemusings for the link to Sarah’s video..

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  1. gbreez says:

    Well done, Sarah, well done!

  2. Kevin says:

    Uncanny the way each of your posts is so relevant to what I am thinking at almost the exact time you post it.Until recently, I thought I was pretty thrifty with my money. I was feeling a little too proud that I usually only buy used goods, and don’t have anything most of the people I know would consider a luxury. I don’t even have to look at as far away places as starving children in Africa to see how wasteful I still am. I have been getting to know some classmates from countries where a month salary is equivalent to a single days salary for me. I visited one’s apartment, to find that she didn’t even have a radio. She loves music and dancing, but had to sit in her cold empty apartment all the time (because going out costs a lot) with not sound at all. Suddenly, buying the cheapest beer instead of the better tasting belgian beer is not such a big sacrifice anymore, considering that for the money I spend on beer in one night at the bar, she could have a radio and cassette deck from the second-hand shop, bringing her music for the rest of the year. Or, another classmate could use Skype to phone home, talk to his family for several hours (longer than the cheap beer buzz lasts) for the first time since he arrived here. I feel sick to think that the money for my last weekend trip to France might actually have been better used helping one of the other students who was accepted to the study program, but couldn’t come because he couldn’t afford a plane ticket.Seeing the equivalent costs on the video it is totally clear which is a better use of the money, but once we start thinking about what our money *could* be doing, we could very well find that almost all of what we think is worth it, really isn’t when compared to what it would be worth to others. There would be no end. And that lets us slip right back into the “I worked for it, so I deserve it and should not feel bad” thinking. I think we even tend to feel that we are somehow being suckered if we use the money for something that doesn’t benefit us directly, maybe because we don’t want to be the only one.While the video is compelling, I am ashamed to say that alone it will probably not drive me to make a significant change in my life. It just seems too far away. However, In combination with the first hand experience and personal connection I suddenly have (for the first time) with seeing how my frivolous spending could be creating so much more well-being than it has been, this video is quite powerful.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Kevin: Moving and inspiring comments, as always. I recently read in the New Yorker about a guy who made millions and then, suddenly, had an epiphany and gave it all away. Everything. It cost him his marriage, his business, his family, his reputation. And then he decided that wasn’t enough, so he donated a kidney. I salute you for setting a courageous example of generosity and awareness. If everyone were like you, there would be no disparity. In your own way, proportionally, you are more giving even than Sarah.

  4. Kevin says:

    Dont get me wrong. I’m not saying that I am really *doing* anything other than some easy things. I was only commenting on what I was thinking and noticing. I still took the trip to France even though I know that the money could have been better off helping someone come to school, which would not only create more opportunity for me to learn because of more diverse input, but also hopefully be good for the future having more people working toward a more just and sustainable society.Unfortunatly, I am still at the place where I recognize this, but still waste the money on myself.

  5. me says:

    Well, don’t make a martyr out of yourself either. You have to enjoy your life somewhat. We all work hard every day.If you want to give it all away, then take a less stressful job for less money and donate your time instead.

  6. Kevin says:

    Sorry to fill up your comment box, but this topic has really struck a chord with me.In response to Eric, I would say that I am not thinking about it in terms of becoming a martyr. That is just the problem. We assume that if we don’t use our money for our immediate personal satisfaction, it is some kind of martyrdom.In fact, if I were to use the money to invest in the future of the earth, rather than in a beer buzz, I am getting much more personal benefit out of it… so long as I consider a benefit for my children to be a benefit for me.Nor am I speaking of “giving it all away”. I am not even contemplating making myself a pauper. But giving up a beer or two, or an expensive trip that I know I don’t need, is not going to put me in the poor house. I took a less stressfull job, I make less money than I used to, all with the intention to spend my time on something more productive, but the fact is, I still make enough to waste on crap, and that money can still be put to better use.I am not saying we should give up things we really want, I am just saying we should really think about what we really want most, and put our money there.

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