The very heart of everyday ambassadorship is this natural process of identifying and eliminating our own personal biases. It is the journey to see ourselves in others, and vice versa, no matter how different they might seem at first. And the urgency of the everyday ambassador movement rests in tragedies like last week’s; for all the inclusiveness and progress that exists in our world, we still see, every day, instances of misunderstanding, stereotyping, and outright prejudice, and too often they result in heartbreaking losses. The more we can call out these crimes when we see them, the more we help develop life-saving societal self awareness. The more we can do to connect, build bridges, and appreciate one another’s differences, the more we create a world in which hate crimes will never be an issue.
You and I may not be able to do anything directly to stop ISIS from their inhumane violence in the immediate term. But these are a few specific actions we can take to minimize the development of further terrorism, including investing in anti-poverty initiatives, having greater awareness, and avoidance, of damaging stereotypes, and learning as much as we can about one another, so that we can speak up in meaningful and impactful ways.
I can’t help it! Anytime I tune into a major sporting event, including last night’s Super Bowl XLIX, the first thought that enters my head is always the same: if this level of fanfare was poured into tackling global social inequities, we would already live in a world free from poverty, hunger, disease, and discrimination. Don’t get me wrong, …
With great wisdom, the world’s most generous billionaire knows full well that his wealth alone won’t achieve any of these lofty goals. Social change takes far more than enormous investments, though they’re a great place to start. Changing the world requires political will and shared social sentiments among millions. Changing the world requires more than a few famous people pouring dollars into innovations; it requires as many global citizens as possible to agree that no child should die of a preventable disease, that no person should go hungry when the tools exist to harvest natural resources, that no one should be denied financial security, even if their savings are humble, and that no young woman should ever be left behind simply because of her gender. Changing the world doesn’t happen with one massive policy change. It happens little by little, every day.
If 2014 has taught us anything about Social Justice, it’s that Martin Luther King’s mission for racial equality is far from fully accomplished. In the past year, discussions about racial equality have ripped through America’s consciousness, in the wake of the horrific murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, as well as the sick ‘revenge’ executions of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos …
Twelve souls perish in Paris and the Internet explodes with emotion and commentary; war is declared on the attackers. Twelve thousand souls perish in northern Nigeria, and we don’t blink a digital eye. Their suffering, though real and persistent and inescapable, remains largely unknown and rarely discussed. I ask you to think about why the world responds so forcefully to the plight of some people, while nearly ignoring the plight of others. (And to question whether or not we do this in our everyday lives? In what ways do we sometimes have more empathy with people like us, or more sympathy for ourselves and loved ones, than with people whose lives and backgrounds are different than ours?)
[Solving huge issues] sounds entirely out of reach for everyday people like me. I’m not a Minister, I’m not a Manager of an international development firm, I’m not a multi-million dollar donor. How am I supposed to change any of these things? Most of us really can’t, and won’t, make any enormous difference in these big changes needed. But as I reflected on our research findings with friends in Accra, and thought about why non-complex matters are often so impossible to put in motion, it occurred to me that this line of thinking is a valuable New Year reflection and resolution. What projects am I involved with in my life that require my commitment, my follow-through, my insistence to not give up? When complications arise, will I throw in the towel or will I find another solution? When timelines seem long and unpredictable, will I move, distracted, onto something new and exciting, or will I stick with the thing I committed to?