I’ve always resisted Sarah McLachlan, even when my heart and my ears wanted to give in to her songs. They seemed too middle-of-the-road, too angel-filled, too soft and girly, too Canadian. Then today I’m sitting at my desk on West 43rd Street in Manhattan, fooling around reading Clive Thompson’s blog, and a link sends me to worldonfire.ca, where you can watch the video for Sarah M’s newish song, World on Fire. The idea is that she took the $150,000 the record company budgeted for the video and spent just $15 of it, making a super-cheap, stripped-down video: her alone, playing acoustic guitar and singing, in jeans and bare feet in a sparsely furnished living room. And then the rest of the video (directed by Sophie Muller), in crude animation and supertitles, is an accounting for the remaining $149,985, which she gave away. The money bought school supplies in Afghanistan, the video tells you, and it built a clinic in a Kenyan slum and provided food for street children in Calcutta. Now, I am no dummy. I know the video cost more than $15 to make, and I know that the solution to global poverty is more complicated than it looks in the equations that squiggled across my computer screen this afternoon. But I loved this video. Every time I watched it, it choked me up, right there in my cubicle, and I had to toggle over to email or a news site to keep from getting teary. When I was growing up in Toronto, my grandfather had a quote from Mahatma Gandhi on his fridge: The world has enough for every man’s need, but not enough for every man’s greed. His ethic—a measure of Christian socialism, a dash of Hindu asceticism—flowed through my family and my childhood. Somewhere along the way I rebelled against those politics, concluding that the world was more complex and nuanced than my grandfather thought it was. Villains were less villainous than he said, I decided, heroes less heroic, solutions less straightforward. And I think that’s why “World on Fire” hits me the way it does—because its ethics are simple and pure, like my grandfather’s. Yes, yes, it says, living truly and nobly, giving what you have to others with a smile—it might not solve anything. But why not just give it a try?