Special double-your-donation edition.
You know The Boss: Bruce Springsteen. A star!
You know the First Lady: Martha Custis Washington. Another star—of a challenging era.
Now, meet Bruce and Martha Karsh. Superstars!!
Bruce and I were roommates our first semester at Duke, and dorm mates after that.
We went skydiving early freshman year. The snapshot’s of me, but he was there.
Cat Stevens? Bruce? You decide.
With our friend and fellow first semester roommate—another Jeffrey, whom you met in Chicago on Joey’s and my 2011 Ride to Iowa—we graduated a year early.
Bruce and I shared a DC apartment for a summer before he went to UVA Law (where he was a star) and I went to UChicago Law (from which I merely graduated). On the first summer break, while he was polishing his legal skills, I worked on a farm. This presaged the trajectory of our careers.
After law school, Bruce married his UVA classmate Martha (a Virginian like Ms. Custis-Washington). I married my Duke classmate Nancy. They moved to LA, we moved to Hoboken.
At Duke, Bruce was a dazzling urban sophisticate. He traveled in rarified circles. Except for that skydiving adventure (wonderful, and I’ll never do it again), I stayed on the ground. But even from down here, I learned a lot from Bruce. He taught me that sports teams don’t win when they don’t want it enough, a broadly applicable observation. Bruce was an econ major but took organic chemistry, just to see if he could succeed: A+. Bruce showed me how one could think big. And more.
All this country boy could offer in turn was practical knowledge—repairing bikes, chopping firewood, painting interiors, etc., things that I did and do—but economist Bruce knew about comparative advantage and stuck to his considerable intellectual strengths.
Bruce, Martha, and Nancy went on to spectacular careers in big organizations. I remained a dabbler, a jack of many trades, master of none.
Our differences aside, Bruce and I had some things in common. One was our ability to recognize wonderful women: Martha and Nancy. Another was valuing and practicing professional integrity. Another was recognizing that the world needs repair.
True to form, in the 35 years since I left the big law firms, I have attempted to repair the world on a small scale. I’ve practiced law the same way I pedal my bike: alone, with the turtles and roadkill . . .
. . . patching things as I go. I’ve won refuge for hundreds of people. Nancy’s support freed me to open my thin wallet to help them. I taught lawyers and law students how to win asylum cases; that leveraged my meager talent a bit. But the number I helped each year was small.
Bruce did things differently. True to form, he soared high and higher . . .
. . . building a fantastically successful business. He didn’t work alone; one can’t in that field. Bruce generated a vast surplus for Martha and their family, and for thousands of people who put food on the table because of his entrepreneurship. For some, that would be good works enough.
It’s not enough for Bruce and Martha. They repair the world in even bigger ways.
Economist Bruce would say that helping people my way, a few at a time, is micro work.
Bruce and Martha do macro work. They do what each does best, and use the profit to support institutions and experts in education, social welfare, medicine, and human rights. Their philanthropy improves the lives of millions.
For years, like many of you, Bruce and Martha have been generous donors to Human Rights First. They support its effective expertise through the annual Ride.
This year, they’re encouraging us all to double down by pledging to match every new or increased donation, up to a total of $25,000.
Let’s not leave any of that match on the table.
Please click here to donate now, before you forget. Donate for the first time, or increase your past donation, and you’ll double your impact! Double your fun!
Then, like Bruce and Martha, you’ll get a souvenir Beatles postcard, signed by Joey and by me.
Thank you, Bruce and Martha!
And thank you, donors to Human Rights First!
Now I’ll get back on the bike. The turtles and roadkill are waiting.