We want to make a difference in the world, but doing what? Certainly, the work of doctors, nurses, teachers, and pastors is important and makes a great difference in the lives of the people they touch. Those who minister to the poor, protect us from harm, and guide the political process have an opportunity to do great good in the world. Clearly, such occupations make a difference.
Another class of occupation involves finding new solutions to age-old problems. This is the realm of the thinker, the dreamer, and the researcher. Such men and women apply their imaginations to the issues that we face and discover creative ways to tackle the issues of the day.
Each of us has a different set of skills and interests that can be applied to solving the problems of the world. The key to success is to match your abilities to a problem that you are passionate about. One approach to finding issues that suit your tastes is to examine what others are doing at global and local levels. Another is to reflect on your personal experiences and those that are prompted by participation in your faith community.
A systematic approach would include these three elements:
- Reflection: What are the problems you are interested in solving? Read widely about these issues and find out what aspects of those problems impact your local community. Are you interested in public health, poverty, natural foods, urban agriculture, clean water, pollution, ecojustice, sustainable industrial development, animal welfare?
- Education: Choose a problem. Investigate how it became a problem and what people have proposed to do about it. Make a list of the local groups that are trying to solve the issue. How might you be able to contribute to solving the problem? Take into account your current knowledge, skills and interests and those you are willing to develop. What knowledge and skills will you need?
- Action: What actions can you take to tackle your problem? Consider writing a book or publication; putting up a website; starting, joining, or volunteering for a non-profit organization; working on river clean-up or biodiversity surveys; lobbying the government and talking with neighbors willing to do the same; or, teaching the community about the problem and how they might contribute to its solution.
Online Resources for Exploring the Issues
UN Global Issues
To its initial goals of safeguarding peace, protecting human rights, establishing the framework for international justice and promoting economic and social progress are added the two dozen listed here.
Teacher resources supporting the integration of a global perspective across the curriculum.
TED talks on Global Issues
TED provides thought-provoking short videos. It began as a conference in 1984 bringing together people from technology, entertainment, and design.
Analyzes interdisciplinary environmental data from around the world, providing information on how to build a sustainable society. Focuses on three themes: climate & energy, food & agriculture, environment and society.
A private site, with a large number of articles written by Anup Shah, blogging about “Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All.”
Helps for starting petitions on human rights, global poverty, and environmental protection.
Religions for Peace
Religious groups working together to stop war, end poverty, and protect the earth.
EcoHealth Alliance works at the intersection of ecosystem, animal and human health through local conservation programs and develops global health solutions to emerging diseases.