Archive for September, 2007

Three Cheers for Nike

Thumbs Up for NikeSo often the news that the average citizen hears regarding Corporate America is negative – primarily because our news media loves to trumpet the latest accounting scandal, or tear apart the most recent disgraced executive. Corporate greed is running rampant in some industries (oil, pharmaceuticals, insurance, etc.) leaving many of us with a bad taste in our mouth for big business.

Less media noise is made when a corporation does something very good. Maybe it doesn’t “sell” as well. But when a company steps up to the plate and says “here’s a problem that we can help with” and it DOESN’T also boost their bottom line significantly, that’s worth trumpeting.

Nike, the giant footwear corporation, has developed a shoe specific to the needs of a segment of the population suffering most from severe health issues (including obesity and diabetes), Native Americans. Obesity generally causes major changes in one’s foot – which flattens, widens, and the arches fall – from carrying so much excess weight. Foot changes make it extremely difficult to find comfortable shoes, and not having comfortable shoes makes it difficult to get excercise in order to lose weight. American Indians, as an ethnic group, also have wider than average feet, making it even more difficult for them to find comfortable shoes.

Best of all, Nike is offering these shoes to American Indian tribes at wholesale, and all profits from the sale of the shoe will be reinvested in health programs for tribal lands, where problems with obesity, diabetes and related conditions are near epidemic levels in some tribes.

I would like to see Nike extend this wonderful program to include all Americans who have been diagnosed with morbid obesity, which is at near-epidemic levels amongst much of our population, including a large number of children, but regardless Nike deserves three cheers for exhibiting such a high level of civic responsibility.

America the Compassionate

HeartsI was going to title this post “Fighting Radical Islam One Family at a Time”, but decided that I did not want to imply that this family had any radical leanings – that would be irresponsible since I do not know their religious or political views. At this moment they are simply a family, like any other anywhere else in the world. Instead I want to focus on this story as a whole, one that is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming, and which I’ve been following for quite a few weeks now.

Unless you’ve been traveling abroad or hiding under a bush, you’ve likely heard the story of the young Iraqi boy named Youssif, who was severely burned in an unprovoked and unexplained attack, leaving him so badly scarred that he has difficulty eating, among other health issues. His family had tried for months to get help from Iraqi authorities, without success, until they finally came to the attention of a CNN reporter stationed in Baghdad, who gave this story the media attention it deserved.

As soon as I saw this item almost a month ago, I knew that America would not let this sad story slip by unnoticed. There is no doubt in my heart and mind that this reprehensible act would not have occurred were it not for the brutal civil war Iraq is enmeshed in, the flames of which were fanned by the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, as a result of a war we had no business starting. Would other, equally violent, acts have occurred under Saddam’s rule? No doubt they would. But likely not this one.

We have a responsibility to try to clean up some of the mess we’ve made. We owe it to some of the ordinary, upstanding citizens of Iraq who have suffered much because of our war. And this is a good place to start. America has shown its unceasing generosity and compassion, its ability to help those in desperate need. There are so many Heroes in this story – everyone responsible for bringing this family to America so that Youssif can get treatment and surgery to correct as much damage as possible, Dr. Peter Grossman of the Grossman Burn Center (who will perform the surgery), and everyone who has donated to the fund set up at the Children’s Burn Foundation to help make this possible. All Heroes who deserve our respect and kudos.

To look into a child’s smiling face is to see hope for our future. To know that, someday when Youssif goes home with a smile on his face because he knows that Americans really do care, gives us even more hope.

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