By: Catherine Porter
Jon Talbert, the “Humanitarian Entrepreneur,” and comedian, came to Gonzaga and spoke on Monday. The founder of the compassion organization, Beautiful Day came to engage and motivates student to take positive actions and to take part in compassion everyday.
Talbert began his speech with some background information about himself, he grew up with a father who was a Baptist pastor. Talbert grew up in what de described as a “religious bubble” that was “super stifling” for him. His home life was restricted by rules on what he could watch, listen to and who he could hangout with. Talbert says he struggled with the fact that he felt like he was defined by what he couldn’t do.
Talbert went on to explain how his college experience changed his view of faith and religion. It was during his time at Biola University that he first heard the verse John 13:34-35, which says “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Talbert explained that it was this verse that inspired him. He said that he studied how Jesus loved and found that he broke social, gender and cultural barriers and Talbert realized that he wanted to do the same thing.
This verse and realization changed the rest of his life. Talbert began to perform random acts of kindness with people in his dorm, such as getting a group of friends together and buying groceries for single parents in their neighborhood. And it was experiences like these that created the foundation for his career in compassion work.
In 2004, Talbert started Beautiful Day, an organization that works locally in Santa Clara to better the community. Talbert describes his goal for the foundation as “bringing something that meets a very real need” in the community.
To achieve this goal, Beautiful Day works with the elderly, homeless, disabled, single parents and anyone else in the community who has a need that can be met. Their latest endeavor, Talbert says, is to throw birthday parties for hookers. Talbert justified this plan among the laughter of the crowd, claiming that birthday parties make one feel special and loved.
Behind every random act of kindness, Talbert explained, there is “genuine love,” which he describes in three parts, genuine love is contagious, it disrupts the status quo and it becomes deeply spiritual.
Talbert also had three parts of our society that he believes “kills and buries”compassion, those are consumerism, individualism and prejudice. He believes that we live in a culture that is defined by the stuff that we own, resulting in the removal of ourselves from other people and we fall prey to our prejudices.
Talbert spent a good part of his speech calling the audience to recognize our “heroic genius,” meaning our special gifts or talents that, when coupled with genuine love, transcend the faults and failures of ourselves and our world.
Olivia Cundari, who scheduled the lecture for GAB, says that she looked into a wide variety of people to come and speak, but she thought that Talbert’s inspiring speeches were something that GU students could “really relate to and get involved in.”
And Talbert supports GU student’s desire to get involved with their community and while he isn’t blind to the difficulties, he says that there is always a way, even if it seems impossible. He says that if a door closes and there seems to be no way in “find a freaking sledgehammer.”