So I've just used a multi-billionaire's image to trick you into reading a minimum wage blog post. That's only partly true. I am headed to Chicago tomorrow. I've been invited there to take part in a 2-day Facebook summit. And Mark Zuckerberg will be there. He's delivering the day one keynote address. But whether he and I actually sit down on a couch and chat billionaire to dreamer extraordinaire is still up in the air. Probably more up in the air of my imagination than his, but air is air, right?
It's such a long story. Most good ones are.. I'll spare you the details and give you the bedtime version.
Just over 3 years ago, Meg Cross Menzies, a young mother of 3 beautiful little kids, was struck and killed by a drunk driver while running on a rural road in our tiny community just outside of Richmond, Virginia. In response, one of Meg's heartbroken friends sent out a call for everyone to "run for Meg" the Saturday after Meg died. With a huge assist from Facebook, over 100,000 people from all over the world ran a collective million or so miles in Meg's memory. Most of them never knew Meg - including me.
In the wake of that run, a Facebook group formed: Meg's Miles Supporters. Today, I am one of the administrators for that group. The group has over 16,000 members who walk, run and pray each other through life and running challenges, and celebrate each other's life and running victories.
Recently an add popped up on my personal Facebook page asking group administrators to apply to attend the first ever Facebook Communities Summit in Chicago. The Summit is part of Facebook's goal to bring people closer together and build common understanding. Ads like this don't usually catch my attention, but for some reason this one did. I applied, interviewed, and long story made bedtime version short - tomorrow I'm headed to Chicago.
I'm fired up about the trip. Mainly because I love Facebook.
I know Facebook has it's detractors. I'm just not one of them. I've watched Facebook do far more to bring people together than tear them apart. In a world that some days seems hell bent on ripping itself into global shreds of hate and intolerance, all sources of unity are enticing to me. Especially one like Facebook that has nearly 2 billion active users.
Here's the thing about unity the world often gets wrong but Facebook gets largely right. Unity is about extending ourselves to others, not sitting back waiting to receive what others can extend to us. And through my work in the Meg's Miles group I've come to believe Facebook may be the most powerful human extension tool in the world right. I used to think the command of my Christian faith to go to all the ends of the earth with God's love was biblical hyperbole of biblical proportions. That was before the bible found a seat at the Facebook table.
I've seen Facebook extend hundreds of high fives across thousands of miles to a runner (me) finishing his first marathon, something he never thought he could do. High fives that made an ordinary struggling runner feel like an Olympic champion. Enthusiasm extended to make a dream come true.
I've seen Facebook extend love, care and support from hundreds of complete strangers to an online friend who lost his dad. An extension that didn't bring his dad back, but delivered him an extended family he never would have had without it.
I recently saw a friend use Facebook to seek and match donations for the town he grew up in. The small Missouri town was devestated by flooding. He extended himself on behalf of his roots and in return hundreds of us got to extend ourselves into a piece of his childhood and into the lives of people who played a role in it.
Last year our Megsmiles group collected shoes for refugees living in a camp in Greece. Thousands of shoes were mailed in and collected at local churches, businesses and schools. Then we got to see pictures of the shoes on the feet of desperate children thousands of miles and an ocean away. A mere decade ago that kind of immediate extension and response to crisis was impossible.
I've always known the world is filled with loving and caring people. So has Facebook. Only they've found a way to mass produce and mass extend their impact.
Here's the other thing. And maybe the most powerful and miraculous thing of all. Facebook extends lives.
I am awed every day that the influence of Meg Cross Menzies is still impacting and changing lives. Meg has been dead for over three years, but still her life is extending into mine and this week into Chicago and last year onto the feet and into the hearts of little Syrian children in Greece. Facebook has certainly been the tool for that. A powerful one. But here's the bigger lesson I take away from it:
Meg's life is extendable because she lived a life of extension.
Meg volunteered in her church and in her kids' schools and at her family's vegetable farm. Meg treasured a life of sacrifice because her sacrifice always meant more love and abundance for others. Meg lived her entire life extending herself to others which has made it possible to not only keep her influence alive, but extend it to people she never in her most sacrificial dreams imagined it would reach.
Meg's life, and Facebook, have led me to consider my own legacy in ways I never had before. The things I do today truly have the power to shape my kids and their kids for generations to come. Facebook is a tool that can help extend the impact of that legacy well beyond me, but it's up to me to give Facebook loving and caring and sacrificial material to work with.
So when I sit on the couch with Mark this week - come on, work with me here, let a guy dream - I'll thank him for what he's built. The opportunity he's given us all to extend ourselves in meaningful and life-changing ways. I'll let him know the kind of pressue he's put on this dad who wants to leave an influential and eternal influence on his boys.
And, yes, I may just ask him for the opportunity to extend a selfie of the billionaire and the dreamer extraordinaire to the Facebook feeds of my friends and his!
I'll be in touch from Chicago!