What's going on here?

I've made a commitment: to do one good deed per day. Large or small, it doesn't matter. Self-sacrificing or not, extraordinary or mundane, it doesn't matter. Just one thing every day, that's all.

The more I do good, the better I feel about myself. Truly, to benefit others is to benefit yourself. I hope this journal may inspire others who also yearn to do good. So join me on this journey, if you will, and think about the difference you can make in your own life.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cleaning up the train

Finally I was on my way home. As the train pulled into Sapporo station, I noticed a number of people had left bottles and wrappers. So I gave the car a once-over before stepping off.

ONE GOOD DEED: Clean up left trash on a train.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Trash after Cherry Blossom-viewing Parties

The Japanese have a spring custom: when the cherry blossoms bloom, which only happens for about a week, they get together with friends and family for a picnic under the blossoms. I found a great many of these picnics going on in Kitanomaru Park in Tokyo. Ever ready to exploit situations for a good deed, I thought surely there would be a great deal of trash left by them. Truthfully I was stunned by how tidy the park was. Even in a big place like Tokyo, the Japanese hold true to their habits of consideration and cleanliness.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash in Kitanomaru Park in Tokyo.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Beers for a friend

After I finished in Hiroshima, I trained it to Tokyo to meet a friend. Although we mainly speak over the Internet, he's become one of my closest English-speaking friends here in Japan. I was happy to be able to visit him. He was nice enough to put me up for the night, so I thought I'd extend a favor in return.

ONE GOOD DEED: Buy beers for a friend in Tokyo.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Where do you want to go?

While riding the tram in Hiroshima, I came across some frazzled tourists. A foreign family (Indian?) who spoke no Japanese boarded the tram, and struggled to ask the conductor where to get off to find their hotel. He didn't seem to understand them. I offered to translate, and an elderly Japanese woman chimed in as well. Between us we managed to get them headed in the right direction.

ONE GOOD DEED: Help a family of tourists find their way.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A drawing for Mr. Y

When I arrived in Hiroshima, I found myself staring at one of the few buildings left standing after the atomic blast. It's now called the Atomic Bomb Dome, and it has been preserved just as it was as an eternal reminder of the devastation.

While contemplating this view, I was approached by a man on a bicycle attempting to say something to me in tortured English. I eventually figured out he was saying "cherry blossoms" which were blooming at the moment. This led into a conversation--his name was Mr. Y--, and he was a former teacher with an interest in languages. He had no job currently, appeared slightly unbalanced mentally, and apparently spent his time haunting the park on his bicycle. It was fun to talk to him, and when we discovered we both drew for a hobby, he requested a picture of the dome from me. Here is Mr. Y holding the result:

ONE GOOD DEED: Draw a picture for Mr. Y.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trash at Sapporo Station

As I waited to begin my journey to Hiroshima, I drifted around the train station quietly picking up bits of paper and garbage. I'm sure quite a few people looked at me rather funny.

ONE GOOD DEED: Pick up trash at the Sapporo JR station

Off on travels

Starting tomorrow night I will be off on a trip to Hiroshima, and I'll have sparse internet access until the 5th. I'll keep doing good deeds of course, but it may be a while before they get posted.

GPR ADF Ritual completed

And now the ritual script started yesterday is done. It's a Genocide Prevention Ritual script for use by members of Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF), a druidic organization. This serves as one example of incorporating the GPR into a faith tradition's liturgy.

ONE GOOD DEED: Complete a ritual script to promote the Genocide Prevention Ritual.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A GPR ritual for ADF

Much of the support for the Genocide Prevention Ritual is coming from Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF), a druidic organization. Today I worked on a ritual script using ADF's beautiful liturgy. It's half-done. I expect to finish it tomorrow.

ONE GOOD DEED: Write a ritual script to promote the Genocide Prevention Ritual.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Promoting the GPR

I spent time today promoting, promoting, promoting. I sent the Genocide Prevention Ritual details to numerous web sites and high-profile bloggers.

ONE GOOD DEED: Promote the Genocide Prevention Ritual.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ladeling soup

Every day at school teachers dole out plates of school lunch. Two or three jump up to help serve. When I first arrived in Japan knowing no Japanese, I thought I'd best leave it to them, as I'd only get in the way. But after five years, I realize how silly I've been. Why not help?

ONE GOOD DEED: Help serve school lunch for the teachers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Genocide Prevention Ritual video on youtube

This one is more artistic than the last.

ONE GOOD DEED: Create a video to promote the Genocide Prevention Ritual.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Genocide ritual organizer's packet

I made a complete packet for organizer's of events for the Genocide Prevention Ritual, including:
* Step by step ritual planning guide
* GPR event poster
* 10 Things You Can Do flyer
* Worthy Charities flyer
and more!

I'm quite happy with how it turned out. I was also ecstatic to have the GPR plugged this week by authors Brendan Myers and H. Jeremiah Lewis, as well as Erik Dutton (Executive Pagan), and Annyikha (Kallisti: An Apple in Pandemonium).

ONE GOOD DEED: Create an organizer's packet to promote the Genocide Prevention Ritual.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Drunk driving is something that has recently become an issue in my family. It is pitiful when a person refuses to take responsibility for their problems, and willfully endangers other family members.

ONE GOOD DEED: Make a donation to MADD.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A parting gift for the vice-principal

Spring has come, which means that transfer season is here. This is the time of year when staff transfer to other schools. This year we're losing a certain vice-principal who has made my days a joy. He's kind of a quirky guy, but I grew to like him. He always wanted to practice English with me, and he also made funny faces at me during the morning meetings.

ONE GOOD DEED: Give a transfering vice-principal a parting gift of Minnesota wild rice.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Genocide Prevention Ritual video on Youtube!

Voila! I made a video to promote The Genocide Prevention Ritual! Please embed and share this video freely!

ONE GOOD DEED: Make a video to promote an interfaith event.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Genocide Prevention Ritual web site

Today I worked very hard to improve the web site for The Genocide Prevention Ritual. Please check it out!

ONE GOOD DEED: Improve a web site for an interfaith event.

image: Flowers in a Khmer Rouge jail cell, by Alex.ch

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lost in a fire

The word came through today that a friend of a friend has lost everything in a house fire. Fortunately neither his wife, his child, nor himself was hurt, but they escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs. Some friends were putting together donations, and I was happy to contribute.

ONE GOOD DEED: Help out a friend who'd lost his home to a fire.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Genocide Prevention Ritual web site!

As mentioned earlier, I'm organizing an interfaith event for April as Genocide Prevention Month. Today I put together a web site for the ritual. Check it out! (and please consider participating!)

ONE GOOD DEED: Make a web site to further the Genocide Prevention Ritual charity project.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

PET caps from friends

As always I'm collecting my PET caps for my school, which donates them to charity. This time I remembered a friend who goes through something like five bottles a day (!). I don't know why I didn't think of it before. I got her caps, and another friend's too.

ONE GOOD DEED: Be a collection point for PET bottle caps for charity.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Graduation rice cakes

Today's graduation ceremony at junior high school was especially moving. I'd taught these students since they were in fifth grade elementary. What's more, since I will be leaving come next July, it felt a little like my own graduation. Memories arose not only of students but also of everybody in the town that I will have to say goodbye to. I was more tear-eyed than usual. Meanwhile, the students were bawling.

I never felt much for graduation ceremonies before Japan. I hated my hometown school and felt no connection to anybody but my small circle of outcast friends. And my university was so gigantic and anonymous that a graduation ceremony felt thoroughly, thoroughly meaningless. When I look back at my whole school career, it's amazing that I can only think of teachers who were jaded, insensitive, neglectful, or mean. Most people I know have at least a few memories of teachers who touched them. Somehow I just don't.

But here in Japan I feel different. Working as a teacher, I have much more emotional investment. I love my students, even when they are naughty or unresponsive. So graduation ceremonies are meaningful for me now. I can't remember one where I didn't tear up at least a little.

I hope my students will remember me better than I remember my teachers.

In any case, everyone got to take home some mochi (rice cakes filled with sweet red bean paste). Back at the office, I took them out and was about to bite into them when I had a better idea.

ONE GOOD DEED: Give away my graduation rice cakes to a coworker.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

War Child and the Iraq Foundation

Today I found two new charities, both aiding children affected by war. I raised awareness by posting them to the group Polytheist Charity.

War Child International - works to help children caught up in the horrors of war

Iraq Foundation - raises awareness for the suffering of Iraqi people and raises funds which are then given to institutions and organizations in Iraq to aid children, refugees, and widows

ONE GOOD DEED: Raise awareness for charities for children affected by war.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March for Babies

A friend of mine is doing a March of Dimes walk to aid motherhood and infant health. I was more than happy to oblige.

ONE GOOD DEED: Sponsor a friend in the March for Babies walk.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Carpet repairman

While strolling around for something to do at school between classes, I noticed the carpet was coming up in the media center. It was a small thing, but something I could do.

ONE GOOD DEED: Fix the carpet coming up in a school room.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sure I will

Today was yet another day at school with little to do, while other teachers were overloaded with graduation preparations. I always ask what I can do to help, but it's just one more bother to find something that the gaijin can do. So I just keep my eyes open. Today I saw the teacher next to me fumbling to draw cherry blossom decorations. He turned to me and didn't even have to say anything. I just said, "Sure I will," and took over for him.

ONE GOOD DEED: Help a teacher with his graduation preparation work.

image: photograph by Nathan Wright

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A birthday party

My neighbor M. is really my best friend in Japan. She's one of those people who are so nice you want to slap them. She does everything for me. Tuesday is her 58th birthday--the last I'll get to spend with her--so I got her friends together today to celebrate. We had a wonderful time.

ONE GOOD DEED: Organize a birthday party for my neighbor, and bring the cake.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A letter to Secretary Clinton

With the ICC warrant issued for his arrest, Sudan's president Bashir has retaliated by kicking out a number of humanitarian aid organizations. This leaves millions of displaced persons without food or sometimes even water. The U.S. has to take diplomatic action to rectify the situation. Save Darfur has a form to sign an online letter to Secretary Clinton, asking her to make Darfur a top priority. Please take thirty seconds of your time to make you opinion known.

ONE GOOD DEED: Send a letter to Secretary Clinton asking her to make Darfur a top priority.

Spreading the word about Darfur

Very few Japanese seem to know about the crisis in Darfur. I asked the local culture center about screening The Devil Came On Horseback to raise awareness and funds, but to no avail. The town is just too small to attract enough people to justify the cost. The only other local place I could think of was a soup curry restaurant in Rumoi. The owner-operators are a couple of hip young Japanese rasta-types. They do African drumming and sometimes organize dance parties. Last night I gave them some information on Darfur and offered my help if they wanted to host a Darfur event.

ONE GOOD DEED: Plant seeds for local events raising awareness about Darfur.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Preparing for Genocide Prevention Month

April has been declared Genocide Prevention Month. Today I started the ball rolling for a faith-based initiative to raise awareness of genocides and atrocities past and current. I hope that I can get several religious groups working together on this project.

ONE GOOD DEED: Start working on a faith-based initiative for Genocide Prevention Month.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A veterans transitional house

A friend of mine works at a transitional house in desperate need of funds. Due to the unfortunate actions of a disgruntled employee (now fired), its funds have been re-allocated. Now this organization dedicated to helping homeless veterans may have to turn some of them back out onto the street. All of them have reportedly been clean and sober for at least a year, and are working, attending counseling, and being active in the community. Please consider giving to the Veterans Executive Corporation to Organize Rehabilitative Services.

ONE GOOD DEED: Donate to save a veterans transitional house.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Taking care of solitaries

I belong to a religious organization called ADF, and about half the members are what's called "solitaries." That is, they practice their religion alone rather than with a group, for whatever reason. Somebody needs to attend to the needs of all those solitaries, and I've been that person for the last year or so. It's all volunteer work. Today I helped a person looking for resources to create a liturgy to celebrate the coming spring equinox.

ONE GOOD DEED: Help a person in need of resources for their spiritual path.

Monday, March 2, 2009

And again, shoveling

We got dumped on overnight. I was stunned how deep the snow was when I left the apartment. After work, I shoveled everyone out again.

ONE GOOD DEED: Shovel out the cars in the apartment parking lot.