Looking backward, looking forward

My favorite posts from 2008:

1) Why health matters. My best friends’ daughter died, and in the terrible misery that followed, I did my best to take a lesson from it. My grieving friends liked the post, and people are still linking to it, so maybe it’s a useful lesson. I hope I never have to write a post again informed by such personal pain.

2) Things I believe in: Oral Rehydration Salts. I love talking about ORS. I think everyone needs to know about them.

3) Development 2.0 – more than jargon? This post is still being tossed about on Twitter. Thinking about Development 2.0, writing the post, and talking to others about the contents helped me to finally get a grip on the concept. It was a really valuable process for me; I hope the result is valuable to others.

4) When do non-profits do more harm than good? A reader favorite, this post got amazing comments that enlightened me.

5) Things that do damage. My screed against thoughtlessness and poor planning.

6) Why I hate the word sustainability. Another post that helped me think things through, this generated a whole dialogue that I was proud to be part of.

7) Keep your banana to yourself. I love that I finally wrote something with a snappy title, and I think I said something important about the difference between street-corner charity and development work. Also, it got the best comment ever “Good grief. Such control! That’s like potty-training your kids at gun point.”

8 ) Suffering does not make you special. Apparently I like to rant. This time, about how poverty doesn’t ennoble the human spirit, it grinds it down.

9) Ethics and International Development. Just a few more ways that doing good is very hard.

10) Humbling Hospitality Experiences. You can always find a way to give, if you want to.

Bonus Post: A semi-definite guide to my volunteer work and my consulting. I felt like a total jerk writing that post, but based on the feedback it has helped a lot of people set boundaries in their own lives. (And it got me a consulting gig. I’m listing it here just in case it gets me more.)

And here is my thought for 2009:

We’re all in this together. We’re not in this line of work because we want to help far-away strangers. We’re in it because, in the end, we’re one big blob of people on one scarred messy planet, and no one is truly healthy when others are bleeding. We are connected; there’s no way around it. It’s time to make that connectedness a source of strength.

Happy New Year!

(photo credit: NASA/Goddard Space Center, via woodleywonderworks)