Wednesday, September 24, 2008

To my refugee friends

The desert roars in my ears...

the wind has torn the sand from one a hill to another...

it has dispersed it...

it has pulled it from the earth... has eroded it...

will the sand mix in with this new soil, this new earth?...

will another wind blow?

where will these grain of salt and sand land next?

the wind has brought them to my face,

its sensation is so different, that I just want to remove them,

to scratch, to get them out of my skin, even if I excoriate it...

then I try to ignore it, to pretend it's not there,

but it is there...

and then I remember,
I realize that I'm one more grain of sand in the desert, hoping to blend in new ground

I realize how the sand got where it is, and the wind that scraped off its old home.

And then I receive it, I welcome it, I embrace it...

Friday, September 19, 2008


In my professional life I have gravitated between the private sector and the non-profit sector. My last gig was managing two Emerging Markets indexes for Standard & Poor's . In my position, I had the displeasure to witness the Pakistani market take a nosedive after Benazir Bhutto's death, but nothing compared to last week. If there has been a tough week for the Capitalist system, this was it. The Wall Street credit crisis has managed to do something that neither the Great Depression, nor two World Wars managed to do, which was taking down Lehman Brothers , shaking the basis of the Capitalist system to its very core.

Well, while Capitalism's hub and raison d'être is self-interest, there is the parallel to this idea, which is 'Philanthropy'. It derives from the greek vocables that mean "love towards men", in other words, love for others. Can these two notions co-exist? Furthermore, can these two practices interact effectively? Can Capitalism be applied in a way destined to the benefit of mankind? From this very questions emerge a whole discussion that is taking place in The Global Philanthropy Forum. Some of the participants are Michael Edwards, which is vocal in his skepticism about the subject, Matthew Bishop, who coined the new term in the work: Philanthrocapitalism: how the rich can save the world remains hopeful.

What's your opinion? is Philanthropy doomed by Capitalism, can it actually help it?

Well, here's my two cents, a very predictable one given my professional background. Along with the many considerations and changes that both the current philanthropic and markets need to experiment, and with the risk of looking foolish and simplistic, I am a believer, I think that Philanthrocapitalism is more beneficial, rather than deleterious to humankind. Hopefully this will ignite another discussion.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

After the Hiatus, I'll Just Train for Humanity

¡Hola Mi Gente!

It has been quite a long time since my last post. Coincidentally, I have not participated in any sort of race for years either. In fact, after participating in a Triathlon in Bountiful, Utah in 2004. I realized that this type of race became one of the most gruesome and excruciating experiences that I never subjected myself to in a voluntary manner. I had prepared myself with great discipline and tenacity; I swam, I biked, and I ran with constancy, so much constancy that it made me believe that I was ready to compete in the long leg of the race, just like any other athlete, after all, that's what I had trained for. Yes, my naivete was unmeasurable, but soon after it would be dispelled, for the moment the race started I realized how this amount overconfidence could be, ironically, humiliating.

I had signed up for the full length of the triathlon and BY GOLLY I WAS GOING TO FINISH THAT LENGTH!. Yes, I can be a determined fellow. Well, I did finish, after everyone else in the race, with the dubious consolation price of obtaining the 2nd place in my category. What was my category? the Clysdale Division. For those of you who don't know the Triathlon lingo, that's the division created for guys like me which are over 200 lbs., so I could not even brag about my level of fitness with that type of prize. Humbling, definitively humbling.

After finishing, however a very relevant question came about in my mind: "OK, Why did I just do this?". I thought that the satisfaction of THE FINISH would have been total and absolutely wasn't, at that moment. Hey, it's not like accomplishing the last place of the race provokes the most exciting and rewarding feeling, so I decided to place that moment in the back of my mind. Nonetheless, the feeling of accomplishment came three years later during a public speaking engagement, when I realized that indeed I did swim, I did bike, and I did run, and most importantly...I finished the race! It was rewarding to see the positive reaction of my audience when I shared that experience: it gave them joy, it gave them as we say in Spanish "ÁNIMO", it gave them "GANAS", and most importantly, it motivated them to have confidence in thier own experiences (now go and look up those two new words).

I think that one the greatest quality of human beings is its ability to restore and renew good things in themselves, even if they were forgotten, hidden, or simply in remission. Who would have thought that such a success could have come from what seemed an evident failure?. I did not think that a Triathlon in which I was not first would become quite a highlight in my life, still it took a while to recognize it.

While sailing the blogosphere not too long ago, I found an original way to help the Darfur Crisis , which is a Human Security Crisis slipping through our minds, making us less and less aware of it. Train for Humanity is a Non Profit with the mission of combining fitness with social media and help empower people for social good while creating a humanitarian movement. I think that this is a good example of how common interests can channel into a noble purpose, thus creating synergistic action. Furthermore, it has the capacity to motivate individuals to better themselves by not only improving their own lives, but the lives of those living in insecure conditions around the globe. It took me four years to find a reason an enough motivation to do another Triathlon. I think I just found one.