Last week in Taiwan, I had the honor of accepting the, “Fervent Global Love of Lives Medal” along with a dozen other individuals who also received this award. Listening to their stories brought with it the realization that my life is rather small and meaningless in comparison. I heard of several women who continue to suffer from multiple cancers, loosing significant parts of their bodies during the fight, yet carry on with meaningful and important community work. One of them remarked that, ‘during adversity, one should be calm and peaceful in heart, and step forward with hope’. There was also the mild-mannered blind burn victim who teaches healing practices and administers to the sick. And then there was a Canadian woman who had abandoned here multi-million dollar marketing business and had started an outreach program in Africa bringing hope to orphans resulting from the AIDs epidemic. My life slipped further into insignificance.
As awardees, we were asked to speak at several schools and a children’s cancer ward in a major hospital. Upon arrival and seeing whom we were to address, again I felt inadequate. The 14-year-old girl who had lost her hair and one leg to cancer was sitting quietly in a wheel chair with an intravenous drip hanging close by. What of my blessed life could I possibly share with her that would be of any use?
But then I thought about what I had seen exhibited by the other award recipients. I saw in them that we are all handicapped and challenged in our lives and we all need to work bravely with the hand life has dealt us. So each of us needs to soldier on with our own unique challenges and be accountable to ourselves. With this in mind, it is easier to see that though we are all tested in different ways, we all have something exceptional to share, which can help to uplift the whole.Text by Gregory Burns, Photographs by Angie Tan Burns, All Rights Reserved.