I’m on a plane returning home after three months in Kenya. First a layover in Morocco. Next NYC.
I’ve been reading a lot of depressing post-election emails and postings and have a lot of friends who insist I’m lucky to be out of the country. Some even suggest I stay away for the next four years. Personally, I refuse to let a disappointing election result dictate either my mood or my resolve. I hold tight to two of my favorite expressions; (1) things are exactly the way they’re meant to be and (2) the truth is very revealing, both of which I translate to mean, we have to fight harder if we want real change and that much smarter if we’re to succeed. Not an ounce of give-up here.
I’m overflowing with positive energy, soaring on the wings of infinite possibilities. It was only two months back on August 30th when I was greeted by a Kenyan immigration officer who upon reviewing my visa application, asked with incredulity, “World Vasectomy Day??? Good luck. African men will never embrace it”.
Today, I return having helped launch a movement that trended for one week straight, generated 130 million online impressions and inspired more men to get a vasectomy in Nairobi alone than the entire previous year throughout all of Kenya. So many accomplishments, but the greatest was putting together an extraordinary team of young men and women who got to experience first hand the power to transform the impossible into the possible through a collective commitment to excellence. I am in a great mood as I board the plane in Nairobi.
Eight hours later I land in Casablanca where a six-hour layover awaits me. The Internet barely works here, but I see on t.v. monitors that Fidel Castro has passed away. While thousands cheer his passing in Florida, I know there are millions of others, both in Cuba and abroad, whose youth was in many ways, defined by the Cuban revolution, inspired by its idealism and saddened by his passing. As a teenager, I too was influenced by Fidel, Che and the Cuban revolution, and while I had no interest or faith in armed revolution, I remained forever committed to a more just, far fairer and kinder world.
I am not Cuban and do not judge the joyous celebrations down in Little Havana, but Fidel’s death brings me no pleasure or cause for celebration. I walk through the airport and see the stores, the endless stores, and products that are ubiquitous to every terminal in the world. The magazine covers are all about Donald Trump. The TV monitors cover the Fidel story. Then a light bulb goes off.
Seen as one long flow of history Trump’s ascendance and Fidel’s death represents the demise of 60s optimism and the rise of mediocrity, cynicism and even the fascism of the 2010s. Yet, while we may have lost the last symbol of an era when revolutionary fervor and social transformation were woven into the fabric of our lives and action and purpose offered hope and possibility, the need to fight better and smarter has never been greater.
This is not the time or place to analyze if history will absolve Fidel and his followers, nor is there any way I can contribute to that debate. What I do know is that the need to commit to social change has never been greater. Those of us who claim to be progressive or radical or human or just kind, stand at the precipice of an unknown tomorrow. We have no choice but to fight apathy with optimism and cynicism with purpose. Give in, give up or get going. I choose the latter.
I will continue to make films. Indeed, I’m working on a film about a brilliant visionary and his team who are bringing both 24/7 affordable and reliable solar energy and wireless internet connectivity to the most remote areas of Haiti. I’m developing another about the enduring effect of slavery on modern consciousness and culture. I do not, can not, WILL NOT stop moving forward.
And World Vasectomy Day carries onwards too. It’s not revolutionary. It’s not radical politics, but simply a powerful faith that for a change to be positive and progressive it must be personal and proactive. I do not measure our success by how many vasectomies are done, but by the quality of the conversations we help inspire. We are a small group species. We thrive in collective action so join our movement.
Humans are storytellers, the product of stories our elders told and our ancestors lived. And the stories we tell today create the world our children will inherit. Four years ago we were just a handful, then a hundred and now thousands. Some day we will be millions of mindful men and women committed to making the impossible possible and turning dreams into reality.
Again, I ask you to support our cause. November 29th is Giving Tuesday. There are many great causes and choosing who to support is not easy, but please considering giving to us. Our crowd funding campaign to build a sustainable program in Kenya fell short. We need your help!
When I land in NYC, it’s time to declare that World Vasectomy Day 2016, the 4th edition has officially ended. One day later, I feel confident in declaring the beginning of Word Vasectomy Day 2017. We commit without fear that it be the most potent and impactful yet. I feel good in knowing both that we’ve come a long way and at yet at the same time, we’re also just beginning.
Photo: Getty Images