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Mademoiselle (US)
October 1997

Quick Fixes

Tori Amos Tells How to Turn Compassion into Action.

by Tori Amos

Change can come from desperate places. Three years ago, I was singing "Me and a Gun" (which is about surviving a rape) - and getting more than a hundred letters from sexual-assault victims every week. After one show, a distraught 13-year-old girl came backstage and asked, "Will you take me with you?" Her stepfather had been molesting her for years. That's when RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) was born. I did what I could but since I couldn't take the girl with me - I'd have been charged with kidnapping - I had to find another way to help young women like her. RAINN now provides free telephone counseling to about 200 rape survivors a day. Obviously, you don't need to start an organization to do some good in the world. There are lots of little ten-minute miracles you can work. But first:

To help others, begin with yourself. People are hardest on themselves. Vicious. Mad. To feel compassion for others, you have to feel compassion for yourself - somehow. Read, become self-aware, honor your body, be committed to tending your soul. Pick up books that inspire you. One of my favorites: Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert Johnson (Harper-San Francisco, 1993).

Think Small. I'd rather give someone a bar of chocolate and make her smile than waltz around some fund-raising dinner where a seat costs $5,000. Ten-minute miracles: Include last year's phone book back into the paper-making cycle: check the Recycle pages in the front section of the Yellow Pages. Drop off old glasses at the nearest LensCrafters; (800) 541-LENS. Bring in used rechargeable batteries to be converted into new ones or stainless steel; (800) 8BATTERY. Recycle wornout sneakers; (800) 352-NIKE.Give your old computer to an after-school program; National Childrens Coalition/Streetcars Foundation: (510) 444-6074 or (510) 286-7916.

Choose kindness. We're all intrinsically capable of being nice or nasty - it's a choice. Volunteer if you can. Give money to a person on the street - but only if it feels right. Carpool. Remember, doing good is never futile, even if it feels as if you're only applying a Band-Aid. One person can make a difference


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