Happy New Year, dear readers. A little late to report, I apologize, but wanted to share two examples of how a modest approach can mean practical and vital change for the better. Back in November my husband and I returned to my alma mater Fordham University and witnessed a small miracle: more than 200 coeds at a modern, urban college campus showing up, on a Wednesday night and coaxed only a little by free refreshments, to hear about a little idea called modesty.
The event was organized by a senior sociology major named Jenna Felz, who had never met Wendy Shalit but was thoroughly intrigued by her ideas. Jenna jumped through the many and varied hoops that any good college bureaucracy could throw at her, and she pulled it off. Wendy’s relaxed and charming sense of humor scored points and elicited many thoughtful questions and a number of contentious ones. The gaggle of crusty-looking boys (men?) seated behind us murmured a few wisecracks but they stayed. And they asked questions. And they listened. What a revelation. In the modern fog of easy sex and emotional isolation, we all got a bracing, inspiring, invigorating lungful of something different. Brava, ladies.
Another note in the paper caught my eye before Christmas: the alluringly-named Modest Needs Foundation. This charitable group has a mission of helping struggling individuals pay for unwelcome surprises such as emergency medical care and car repairs. Often I feel overwhelmed at the sum of misfortune in the world, and at how much need is left over despite what any of us actually do; I love the idea that help such as I can give might truly matter to someone. This group is doing just that. In its 5+ years in existence, it's given away over $2.5 million dollars, some $500 at a time. Making the point that “modest” doesn’t mean “immaterial”, and that little by little covers a lot of ground. Please look into it if you can, at www.modestneeds.org.
Good ideas are like scattered seeds. A great many fall where they’ll never take root, and some take forever to germinate. But when they do, they make a little garden not only for us but for anyone who follows us. Let’s cultivate it.