This past week I received a lovely card and didn’t pay much attention to the stamp on the envelope at first. But then, when I looked closely later, I saw the picture and name Mary Lasker and looked her up.
According to Profiles in Science, the National Library of Medicine, Mary Lasker, now honored on a United States 78-cent postage stamp (especially used for wedding invitations), was a “medical philanthropist, political strategist and health activist (1900-1994).” Additionally, Lasker “acted as a catalyst for the rapid growth of the biomedical research enterprise in the United States after World War II.”
Lasker, the article said, was called “a matchmaker between science and society” by Jonas Salk, the inventor of the Salk vaccine which prevents the dreaded, paralyzing disease polio.
For more details about Lasker, you may want to read the Profiles in Science article. Besides all her work regarding health issues, Lasker was also interested in created beauty and putting beauty into the eye of the beholder. When Lasker died in 1994, she left more than $10 million to the Lasker Foundation to support medical research and urban beautification.
Mary Lasker’s childhood, the science article noted, was “scarred by disease.” Her parents died from strokes and she herself suffered from painful ear infections as a child, when there were no medical remedies for such pain.
Don’t we sometimes want to reach out to soothe somebody’s pain, specifically in ways we were never soothed—or in ways we were soothed? The other night on TV, I heard a preacher say our assignment on this earth involves what moves us to action, what makes us cry for others enough to do something good.
Sometimes we can’t do much, but we can try do something good. Any good dictionary points out that all it takes to be a philanthropist is to “seek and promote the welfare of others”. Sometimes all it takes is planting a flower; not making unnecessary noise; recommending a helpful book; picking up that little piece of litter or that nail in the driveway; writing an encouraging note; taking a bowl of soup–or just buying a tiny stamp to honor a woman whose good work still moves life.
- Pedal to Work, and Smell the Roses (nytimes.com)
- New Vessel Strengthens Ties Between NOAA and Scripps (USA) (worldmaritimenews.com)
- Philanthropy News Digest (July 17, 2012) (womensphilanthropy.typepad.com)
- How to Make Your Own Wedding Invitations (redenvelope.com)
- Polio: Why it hasn’t gone away yet (cnn.com)