Century Marks

Century Marks

Wonder woman

Glamour magazine has named Dr. Hawa Abdi woman of the year, saying she is "equal parts Mother Teresa and Rambo." A Somali ob-gyn and lawyer, she runs a 400-bed hospital and helped start a school mostly for girls. Surrounding the hospital are 1,300 acres of farmland that have become a refuge for some 90,000 people displaced by the warring factions in Somalia. A hard-line militia decided last May that a woman couldn't run this operation and ordered her to hand it over to them. She refused, even though her daughter pleaded with her to give in. The militia eventually relented in the face of worldwide outrage, mostly from Somali groups. But before departing the militia wrecked the hospital. Abdi has been in the U.S. raising money to restore the facility (Nicholas D. Kristof in New York Times, December 15).

Power of poetry

Kim Rosen (author of Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words) visited a safe house in Kenya for young Masai women who had run away from home to escape genital mutilation. The girls liked to sing and asked Rosen if she knew any songs. When Rosen said that what she really likes is poetry, the girls asked her to recite a poem. The first poem to come to Rosen's mind was Mary Oliver's "The Journey," a poem about leaving home, which begins: "One day you finally knew / what you had to do." By the time Rosen was done reciting this poem, she and some of the girls were in tears. One of them asked, "Who is this woman, Mary Oliver? Is she Masai?" (The Sun, December).

None of the above

Conservative Christians may have a plethora of presidential candidates appealing to them for their votes in 2012, but many of the prominent figures have liabilities in the eyes of this constituency. Sarah Palin is seen by many as unelectable. Mitt Romney is a Mormon, which is anathema for many evangelicals. Newt Gingrich has a marriage problem—two ex-wives. And while Mike Huckabee is a pastor who speaks the language of "values voters," some believe that he failed to make the most of the popular support he had in 2008 (Newsweek, December 20).

Note this

John Kralik's life was falling apart. He was going through a painful second divorce, his girlfriend had left him, his law firm was failing and he was growing apart from his children. One day he decided to focus not on what he didn't have but on what he did have. To express his gratitude, he wrote a handwritten thank-you note each day to someone who had shown him a kindness—a relative, a colleague, a coffee shop barista. Immediately after starting this note-
writing, positive developments began to take shape in his life. His book about his experience is 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life (USA Today, December 8).

Tracking Jesus

Some churches with public nativity displays have had problems with vandalism. Stealing baby Jesus is a common prank. A security company has come to the rescue. It plants a GPS device in the nativity items so that the stolen objects can be tracked. One church reported that by publicizing its use of the tracking devices it had stopped the vandalism and stealing. The company, BrickHouse Security, is also donating its services to churches, synagogues and schools for displays other than nativity scenes (SFGate.com, December 2).