The world is in trouble, and we can joins hands to make it better

Matthew Friedman calls for us all to come together to end global ills such as poverty and war, and give more of ourselves to help build a better world

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 10:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 10:05am

Our world is in trouble. Our atmosphere is heating up, our ice poles are melting, several of our most beloved species are near extinction, people are in slavery all over the world, more than half the world lives in poverty, and wars rage in over 10 countries.

With another New Year upon us, these issues are not getting any better. In fact, in many cases, they are getting worse.

As a development worker who has lived and worked in over 42 countries around the world, I have realised that if people like me who were working on these issues could solve them, we would. But we simply can’t. These problems go well beyond what a few thousand can do to help. Most will require an army of people who are united.

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The world’s problems belong to each one of us. Every one of us benefits from what this world offers. It’s right that we stop and ask, “What can I offer in return?”

Many people make New Year resolutions. These can include vows to exercise, eat better, drink less, be more productive, become a better person or get a better job. What if our lists were extended to include things that go beyond our personal agendas and needs? What if they were to include fighting global warming, addressing injustice, or reducing pollution?

If 10 million people stepped up with 10 million small compassionate gestures to help, imagine the impact

Doubts about the effectiveness of our engagement often stops us from doing anything. I often hear people ask, “I am just one person. What difference could I make?” If only one person were to step up, then, I agree, not much could be expected. But if 10 million people stepped up with 10 million small compassionate gestures to help, imagine the impact. Success in this area is a numbers game.

Find an issue that interests you, and commit yourself to help. You do not have to quit your job and work in a soup kitchen. Simply consider something within your capacity. There are many options to consider. The easiest is general awareness. Learn about a global issue and educate others. This doesn’t take much time, but can help to really increase our collective understanding.

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Another option is to volunteer with an NGO. There are many that could greatly benefit from some helping hands.

Third, consider donating or fundraising for those who are doing the work. One of the biggest issues faced by NGOs is a lack of resources to tackle problems.

Finally, we can all support our government or community in playing a role. Writing letters and supportive suggestions can also add value to the response.

Yes, our world is in trouble. But it doesn’t have to be. We could chip away at every global problem. For this to happen, we simply need to accept some responsibility to help and then follow through. It is as simple as that.

Matthew Friedman is CEO of the Mekong Club