Here’s another entry in my campaign to expand our thinking about the elderly. This, from an obituary in the Washington Post December 27: Dutch-born actor and singer Johannes Heesters performed in 2008 at age 105 at a theater in his native Amersfoort. At age 98, he performed in Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.  He died at age 108.

Unless you’re one of them, you are incensed about corporation executives raking in millions in salary and benefits while the 99 percent of the people working in these corporations are eking along with the pennies left over. What we have in this country is a feudal system of lords and serfs. But we also have the Internet, easy communication, and an easy way to organize. What about a nationwide union of every working person that demands a fair distribution of profits among all the workers, not just the top executives? This union doesn’t require recruiters or staff; it just requires easy access to information and communication, i.e. the Internet. Wouldn’t it be interesting if every working person in the country joined a strike to support the 99 percent?  The truth is that “trickle down” doesn’t.

Do you remember that odious prayer, “Now I lay be down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake…” GAWK! If I should die before I wake? That prayer kept me awake for years. I grew up when polio was a grim reality, when stories were often told of a friend waking up with a stiff neck that turned into polio. Sadly, many people around the world are still victims of this terrible disease. We should take a moment to consider that we have the means to eradicate polio worldwide and have not.

On the other hand, many organizations and people are doing good in the world, often against incredible odds. They are picking up the starfish and throwing it back in the water and that will make a difference to that starfish. One example is Rick Hodes, an American doctor who has lived and worked in Ethiopia for over 20 years. He is the medical director of Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Currently he is the senior consultant at a Catholic mission helping sick destitutes with heart disease, spine disease, and cancer. He has also worked with refugees in Rwanda, Zaire, Tanzania, Somalia and Albania. His work is the subject of the HBO documentary, “Making the Crooked Straight,” as well as a new book, This is a Soul: The Mssion of Rick Hodes.  You can read more about him at his website,, and since it’s the season, go ahead and make a donation.