Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

You are known as a writer with great influence on public. If you were the one who direct humanitarian activities, to which sphere of activity you would orientate humanitarianism : Sting is trying to rescue the tropical rain forest, Bono lectures to leaders of the strongest states, Sharon Stone collect financial resources for humanitarian purposes, Gilberto Gil is a Minister of Culture. Have you ever thought or wished to politically engaged?

I think that it is everyone’s responsibility to be involved in one�s community. I’ve always been very skeptical about people that say: “I want to save the world, help others!” This is because to save the “world” is a Sisyphus project : too abstract to actually be put into practice. What is possible – and the most difficult task – is to first look at oneself and try to identify what’s wrong. Before searching for the other, one has to find oneself.
I took forty years to find myself � to accept my dream: to become a writer. Only when I started to walk down the path of my personal legend was I able to honestly turn myself towards others: before that there were too many walls inside my soul.
I looked around me and said: “I can’t change the world, I can’t change my country, I can’t change my city, I can’t even change my neighborhood! what I can change is my street.” That’s when I went to a favela ” in Rio favelas are in the center of the city � and met a group of people that were taking care of children. Since then I’ve been cooperating with them and now we take care of 430 children.

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

The Paulo Coelho Institute concentrates on helping the children and the elderly. Why are these two groups specifically important to you?

For a writer, to be famous is very abstract, because he does not have a direct contact with the readers. Therefore, the only visible change is that I know that several doors are open, and I have to choose the good ones. For example, I choose to participate on the Rainbow Project, supporting young people whose countries are at war, as I choose to engage myself into a Unesco program that tries to create a bridge between different cultures. And that’s why I also created the Paulo Coelho Institute, which takes care of 430 children in Rio de Janeiro. If you understand Saint Paul’s motto “sic transit gloria mundi” (the glory of the world is transitory) you may do your best to use the success as a tool, not as an end itself. As for money, I have what I need to live a comfortable life, and this is the fruit of my work, which I am very proud of.

The cracked jar

By Paulo Coelho

An Indian legend tells of a man who carried water to his village every day, in two large jars tied to the ends of a wooden pole, which he balanced on his back.

One of the jars was older than the other, and had some small cracks; every time the man covered the distance to his house, half of the water was lost.

For two years, the man made the same journey. The younger jar was always very proud of its performance, safe in the knowledge that it was up to the mission it had been made for, while the other jar was mortified with shame at only fulfilling half of its allotted task, even though it knew that those cracks were the result of many years hard work.

It was so ashamed that one day, while the man got ready to fetch water from the well, it decided to speak to him:

– I want to apologize, but because of the many years of service, you are only able to deliver half of my load, and quench half of the thirst which awaits you at your home.

The man smiled, and said:

– When we return, observe carefully the path.

And so it did. And the jar noticed that, on its side, many flowers and plants grew.

– See how nature is more lovely on your side? – commented the man. – I always knew you were cracked, and decided to make use of this fact. I planted flowers and vegetables, and you have always watered them. I have picked many roses to decorate my house with, I have fed my children with lettuce, cabbage and onions. If you were not as you are, how could I have done that?

“All of us, at some point, grow old and start to acquire other qualities. We can always make the most of each one of these new qualities and obtain a good result.”

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