The attached article talks about Sean Penn being the keynote speaker at the AAPI convention. Pretty standard fare, except it was desi related – one, because of the 2000 Indian doctors and their families in attendance, and secondly, Penn acknowledging his inspiration for doing relief work in Haiti came from a quote by Tagore.
As you may know, Penn has been recently in news for spending millions and most of his time in Haiti camps – as CNN describes it, “Penn is hardly new to heroic endeavors. He’s flown to the eye of a hurricane, to the front lines of war. A few years back, he traveled to Iraq and Iran and wrote about both countries for the San Francisco Chronicle.
He was in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — his right arm bears a tattoo that says: “NOLA, Deliver Me.” His presence in all those places and now in Haiti draws skepticism and ire from those who think that celebrities use tragedies to burnish their public images. Penn has been mocked and caricatured by filmmakers, writers and talk-show hosts for taking up causes.
But he brushes it all aside. Someone, he says, has to get it done…”
So how did he get his inspiration from Tagore? As penn describes it, “There is a connection between my presence and all of you. I am not a religious person, but in 1989, I was working in Omaha, Nebraska, and everyday I would take the main road back and forth to the production offices of mine in a house that I rented by the University (of Nebraska). And there was an alleyway, and in that alleyway there was some graffiti and the graffiti said, ‘Every new child born is proof that God is not yet discouraged of men.’ That was the former poet laureate of India, Tagore, who’d written it (the original line).”
To laughter, Penn noted that it had taken “some time to track down, but it made a very strong impression on me because it’s a kind of fuel every time something like Haiti happens.”