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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What do Bishop Desmond Tutu, Bill Gates, and forwarded e-mail have in common? They have all turned up in my e-mail lately and they are all advocates of change.

Bishop Desmond Tutu has been quoted as saying, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Desmond Tutu is considered a powerful force for peace. He stands for human rights, compassion, and morality. His writings, speeches, and sermons are numerous. “We will discover, I hope soon, that we can survive, only together. We can prosper only together. And I think people are beginning to realize this…” Oct. 2007. He has received many prizes including the Nobel Peace Prize.

Bill Gates is the third richest man. He and Paul Allen started Microsoft, the computer company that changed the world. Bill along with his wife, Melinda, run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest charity foundations. Bill recently stepped down from running the day to day operations of Microsoft, so he could begin a fulltime career in charity. The Foundation aims to globally enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty. In the United States, it expands educational opportunities and access to information technology. As a matter of fact, your public library’s computer may have came from this Foundation.

What does e-mail forwards have to do with these two men? You may think this is a stretch but forwarded e-mails change the people that read them. Consider the massive amounts of e-mail waiting to be read on any given day. I have three e-mail accounts. One of them receives as much as 30-40 spam e-mails each day. Some of the forwarded e-mail I get, I really enjoy. It makes me laugh, cry, think, learn something, thank God for such good friends. But I recently received one claiming a false verse from the Koran. It made me sad to think that someone would read this and believe it to be true, thereby fueling hatred.

As a librarian, educator, parent, and sibling in an extremely large family: I learned to verify before repeating. Verify, verify, verify. Snopes.com is a great place to verify forwards. For instance Snopes can tell you those forwarded cash and prizes are a hoax, and so are those e-mail petitions. E-mail tracking systems don’t exist yet.

Verify your forwards. Don’t spread hate. Remember your compassion and “do your bit of good…” Support your troops. Victory should always be won by truth, justice, and honor. Not raw emotions and well-spun lies.

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