- With so many sad things happening in the world all at once it's understandable to feel overwhelmed and depressed about the world. And on top of global issues, we all have our own set of problems. And because it is difficult to accept and painful to think about, we find it easier to throw our hands up and say "it's not my problem" or use blame and do nothing; so that we can avoid feeling. The most selfish response would be "it doesn't affect my life."
So it means a lot to me that you read this.
You're allowing yourself to "go there." And yes it is painful. So we must imagine how worse it must be like for the person that's living in that situation. Because we can find relief, while they cannot.
And that you "go there" is so important. Feeling these conflicting emotions is the only way to have true empathy for another human being, and it helps us understand issues better. It shapes the way we value things and people in our lives and subsequently the decisions we make.
I share stories because it puts a human face on these "issues."
When issues like poverty, injustice, and terrorism, is thrown around, we forget that these issues are not just collateral we can use as a currency to win political or ideological arguments. These issues are people, very real people like you and me. And my intent in sharing their stories is this: If we were to exchange places with them, these mothers, fathers, children,... I know we would want the world to hear our cries. We are all human beings, and none of us got to choose where we were born.
Your willingness to listen, understand and question makes you a hero in my eyes. It takes courage to do that.
The adverse is laziness and apathy. (Which I believe is worse than anything at all and enable the world's biggest tragedies to happen!)
When we can find ways to connect with one another, rather than constantly look for what divides us, we can make it better for our children. There's hope in that.
So the question you ask is "What can I do?"
Of course, being a CEO of a non-profit, I should be saying "donate to our organization!" But that would be a disservice to you.
There are so many causes to contribute your time, resources and energy to. So observe what stories and issues stir you the most. Educate yourself as much as possible, and through that, you will find your unique place and way to help. When you are armed with knowledge, you'll be empowered to not feel so helpless in the face of tragedies and sad stories.
I admire people who are ignited by stories to do something about it. And we can all do something in our own humble way because together, as cliche as it can sound, a difference is made.
I want to remind you that the world's problems are not on one person's shoulders. And they're not all going to go away. But if we can ease the suffering of just one person and acknowledge to others our shared humanity, these issues actually bring us closer to each other and therefore, give us a meaningful way to truly help each other.
I wrote an article about how to talk to our children about these issues here: https://www.linkingtheworld.org/published-articles/2017/2/16/4-ways-to-instill-compassion-in-your-child
Read about how empathy can be your superpower here: https://www.linkingtheworld.org/published-articles/2017/2/16/best-advice-i-ever-got-make-empathy-your-superpower