Eating an elephant: dealing with dilemmas

[If you’ve not read the previous posts, you may want to do so before reading this one]

Back in the early 80’s while living in Brasil, I came face to face with a dilemma that threatened my ability to continue to live in the country.

For almost a year, the abject poverty caused me to empty my pockets every single day, giving away everything I had on me, trying to make an impact, trying to help what my eyes couldn’t comprehend.

It was futile. Much akin to standing on the seashore while a hurricane makes landfall and trying to blow it away with your own breath or trying to empty the ocean one bucketful at a time.

I entered a state of despair. How do I make a difference, how do I help, when it is physically impossible. I honestly considered packing up and leaving because I could not handle it.

The solution was not trying to fix the magnitude, but to deal with a manageable incremental — I couldn’t eat the whole elephant but I could consume a small piece of trunk. My family “adopted” a family and poured our resources into them, eventually “adopting” another one as well. We actually made a difference in their lives that continues to this day, almost thirty years later.

Interesting that I find myself at the same crossroads today in regards to Brasil. Only this time the magnitude is a bit larger.

The solution is still the same; but this time I’m passing the fork around for more folks to take a bite.

Stay tuned…


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