It seems that community service and social justice are flavors of the day. I’m not talking about the folks who give of themselves without an audience. I’m talking about the people who have latched on to charitable causes to boost their own social clout. People are building their brands based on the social good they do. Companies have leveraged philanthropy for years to build goodwill and grow brand equity. As long as there is good that comes from it, I see no harm in it. But this new trend I’m seeing is more about chest puffing than do-gooding. It strikes a chord in me because I don’t see community service and advocacy as resume building or brand building (even if the byproduct of such work makes it so). I am constantly reminded of Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school lesson.
He spoke of the impetus behind giving – be it time, money, or talent. He talked of those who give to pump themselves up, the gloaters of the world. He spoke of those who give anonymously simply to contribute to their communities and causes they care about. He spoke of balancing the marketing of social causes with the fiscal responsibility of it all. Bird just asked me last night about this very issue. He spoke of giving back, paying it forward, opening your heart.
I have always been driven by speaking up and out for the causes I believe in. I am fueled by injustice for those voices that are quieted and live by terribly idealistic values. I’m often a lone voice driving other people crazy. It’s a really marvelous experience to meet others who share my sensibilities. It’s amazing to see the collective difference we can make when like minds band together.
I love the work I do with SAFEchild. I happily support the food bank and Backpack Buddies. And most recently, I have been thrilled and humbled to partner with the UN Foundation‘s Shot@Life team as a Social Good Fellow. Remember Blogust, where your comments helped vaccinate over 10,000 children? (My contribution to that amazing effort is here.) I also wrote about my own vaccination scars from India in 1968. The UN Foundation is literally changing the world. They focus on global health, climate change, and women’s issues, all things that matter to me.
I spent last weekend in New York to kick off UN week with the Social Good Summit. My brain and heart are on overdrive from the experience. I left feeling in awe of the people I met and the stories I heard. It was so affirming to know that there are good, generous people in the world who use their talent, brain, time, and heart to literally change the world. There is so much happening and so much more to do to make this world safe, healthy, and charmed. I took away two important things from the Social Good Summit.
1) One person does make a difference. Just when we think our one lone voice doesn’t amount to much, think of the starfish.