He tweeted and I retweeted, "The passion to change the world for the better is a more powerful force than the defense to keep it the same.” His tweet reminded me, I can and WILL push past these days of fatigue and migraines to make a difference in the world.
But how I met Simon...
That night at the dinner party someone asked Simon, "So what do you do?"
He replied, "I inspire people."
With his response, I immediately I wanted to talk to him. Inspiring people for a living sounded like a fascinating career - one I wouldn't mind exploring. I manage to gracefully join the conversation already started and then the two of us continue talking after the third party excused himself. As we converse, I keep thinking his voice sounds familiar. Finally I start to put the pieces together and I inquire, "Have you by chance ever been involved with any of the TED conferences?" He smiled, and acknowledged, yes, he had been a speaker for TED on more than one occasion. Ah, that's why I knew his voice. I explained to him we used one of his TED talk clips at our student leadership training for the university where I worked. In learning I worked with college students Simon offered to speak to my student leaders in person.
Some time later on Simon took the floor to "inspire" everyone at the dinner gathering. He considers himself a non-devout Jew, yet had attended church that day with the hosts of the dinner party. He explained, that when you have a good friends like Scott and Vik who embrace the Christian faith and you know it is meaningful for them, you have to at least check it out.
I wrote on some of what Simon shared in a grad school paper that explored the possibility of salvific generosity. The excerpt is as follows:
The 50 some of us at Scott’s paused to hear Simon speak about his recent experience in Afghanistan. He was invited there to encourage the troupes, but while he was in country his return flight got canceled, and where he was located was becoming more and more unsafe – too unsafe for his liking. He explained to us that suddenly he could only think of himself and he became desperate to get back to the states. But he was stuck – stuck in Afghanistan, and stuck in his anger and self-centeredness that he had gotten trapped in such a precarious situation.
But then he shifted the story, explaining how he eventually realized he could be of help, and so he starting serving with little things here and there. And, he explained, “As soon as I started serving I had this peace come over me. And that peace stayed with me as I continued to seek ways to help out and serve rather than wallow in my less than fortunate circumstances.” He continued on, “That trip changed me, and since I’ve been back I’ve decided that I want to commit my life to serving those who serve others."