And I'm back! After a lot of thinking about what this weekly letter is for, it's back in your inbox -- redesigned, refocused, and hopefully just generally better. There are now three sections to share things that I've come across, whether in person or on the internet, that I feel are all helpful in the pursuit of a better way to live. The weekly illustration stays -- oftentimes new, sometimes old work that I haven't featured here. I hope you like the changes! As always, thank you for reading. I truly appreciate it. Cheers!
The other day, I was watching the first episode of #OffTheGRID, a documentary series from my favorite magazine, and it was on the island of Siargao in the Philippines. It featured the idyllic beauty and magic of the island and its people, blanketed by a cautionary mood over the changes currently happening to the island. The magnificent waves call out to surfers from all over the world, and the island's surging popularity means more people, and more people means more 'development,' and more 'development' means more trash, and so on and so forth. Cautionary, yes, but hopeful, too. The film featured people who are from Siargao by birth, and those who are in Siargao by choice. And they are all genuinely concerned about the state of their island, and they are all proactively doing something to protect Siargao's beauty, heritage, and identity.
Right after watching it, the husband called me to watch Ready Player One, the newest film from Steven Spielberg. How jarring it was to watch surfers in Siargao in all of the ocean's splendor, and then watch this other film and see people totally disconnected from nature and constantly plugged in to the Oasis, their virtual world. Yes, it was just a film, but it was a bit disturbing because it could pretty much be our reality in the next ten to twenty years, no? YES -- if we don't heed nature's pleas for help, or, more accurately, nature's pleas for us to help ourselves. Nature doesn't really need us, and it's most certainly the other way around. The earth will be just fine --- actually, it will thrive --- without us.
Everything is so gloomy and dreary lately -- the weather here in Seoul, the world in general -- but I would like to think and believe that the good people who are doing selfless, extraordinary hard work are just not featured in the headlines. This section is my attempt to shine the spotlight on an organization, a person, a project, or anything that paints a more positive picture of the world. Something or someone that can give us hope.
And for the inaugural issue of the weekly object 2.0, it was an easy choice: Ashoka. More than a network of social entrepreneurs and innovators, Ashoka is a global movement that was built and continues to thrive on empathy. There is no shortage of good people in the world, you just have to know where to look. Better yet, be one, be the change.
"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."