In a world where fewer than 10 people own 50 percent of the global wealth, what can we as citizens do to effect change? What do we have to offer that cannot be bought by a wealthy elite? How do we stand up to the rich and powerful in the face of such inequity?
Martin Luther King, Jr. offered a useful perspective: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”
All of us have this capacity for service. Whether it is helping on a project to improve your local neighbourhood, or volunteering to advance women’s rights on the other side of the world. Volunteerism is both an expression of shared humanity and a commitment to civic responsibility.
Of course, volunteerism is the heart of Crossroads International. Volunteers’ generous commitment of time and expertise is our lifeblood. Canadians from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and all regions of the country are dedicating themselves to making the world a little more equitable, a little more just.
This week, we are celebrating not only Canadians, but also the many volunteers in our partner organizations who are passionate and skilled collaborators. National Volunteer Week (April 23-29) is also an appropriate time to reflect on the wider societal impacts of volunteerism. Engaging with the world through service builds empathy, fosters dialogue and cross-cultural understanding, and sparks curiosity – all traits that too often appear in short supply when we observe political contexts around the world.
Crossroaders are – through our model of international cooperation – building bridges with their fellow global citizens that will remain strong and drive change long after the immediate impact of their project contributions is realized.
By decoupling service from monetary or other personal reward, we are building a true coalition of the willing, and preparing an effective counterweight to the forces of ignorance, greed, and division.
In the past 50 years more than 10,000 people have served as volunteers with Crossroads International. Through their dedication of time, experience, and expertise, they have created a legacy of hope and change. I salute all of you and thank you for your global citizenship.
As we usher in National Volunteer Week, I encourage you to re-commit to service and reengage. Research an organization or cause, speak with a neighbor or colleague, and get involved. Your energy, ideas, passion, and skill are needed, and together, we can build a better world.