Friday, February 19, 2010


The Power of Half by Kevin Salwen: Book Cover     
Have you heard of this book?  
It is an interesting story that has been making the rounds on all the news shows.  I took my son to see the author and his daughter speak at a local school earlier in the week.  We bought a copy of the book.  Here we are with Mr Salwen and his daughter Hannah.

So the story is -  The family made a radical decision to stop the forward motion of always wanting more, upgrading their lives, so to speak, with newer cars, bigger homes, fancier vacations, and the next rung up on the career ladder.  They sold their home and gave half the money to help others.  Very inspiring story that has sold lots of books but also gained a few naysayers. When you read the book you realize they are not the typical American family.  They sold a 2 million dollar, 6000 square foot, historic home in Atlanta.  So a family of 4 in a 1 million dollar, 3000 square foot home, still sounds pretty nice. When I asked what was the thing they were afraid to let go of during the process of downsizing that they were surprised to find they didn't miss at all, Hannah's answer was the cool old elevator in their home that went up to her room.  Yikes!  I was hoping for a more profound answer.  

Having said all that,  I still found it a thought provoking idea.  The idea behind the title "Power of Half" is a great concept. 
     "Why half?  Because it's measurable.  Often when caring individuals see social problems, our gut reaction is "I ought to do more."  But "more" is too vague to be useful, and we usually end up not doing much of anything.  By contrast, "half" provides a metric to live with, a way to set a standard to push us to achieve." (from the book's introduction) 
They also describe a moment when they really got how much a little to them means a lot to someone else when they participated in the opening of a corn mill in a small village in Ghana Africa that cost $6000.  It was a life changing moment for the villagers and the same price as the braces on their son's teeth.

I'm only a few chapters into the book but we have had a few discussions around the dinner table about what "half" we could give. You could give half your clothes,  sell half your toys, give half the time you normally spend watching television to helping others.  Half of something is tangible especially to children.   We are thinking on it and hope to unveil a "half" project of our own soon.

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