Swine flu is in the air.
CNN promises not to fear-monger as the word “pandemic”
flashes across the screen.
I think of the Mexican peso first, then of the Mexican people dying.
It occurs to me my priorities are screwed up.
But then I realize that’s the point--the constant scramble
to make money
to take care of your family,
It re-arranges everyone’s priorities,
forces people to think ahead, not backwards,
and it seems to work, until it doesn’t.
President Obama’s on the screen now,
talking about that flu again.
I think of the Mexican people first this time.
I think about the American schools shutting down,
and American kids happy to stay home.
I think of how a small thing can multiply into a big thing
and make its way up here without warning.
And then I realize a good thing can also multiply
And come here,
Something we’d never thought about before
until it came here
and changed our lives.
Small things, like six-year old Pierre Omidyar,
arriving in America from France,
his parents from Iran,
Not knowing their little boy would create eBay.
Small things, like Paul and Clara Jobs
adopting a little half-Syrian boy
born in Milwaukee
and bringing him to Mountain View, California,
where he would grow up and give us Apple Computers.
Smaller things, too, like 27 dollars loaned by a man in Bangladesh
who spoke at Stanford in 2003
and caught the ears of Matt and Jessica Flannery,
who then founded Kiva.org.
Soon came millions of dollars to help the poor.
Small things become big when they cross borders
undeterred by risk, failure, or fear.
They come, these small things,
flu particles, yes, but also the seeds of a bright future,
Burrowing their way forward.