Get a real cause.
Own it § Stand for it § Create IMPACT!
This post is inspired by my interactions and first hand experiences with the voluntary sector for a number of years. My views here are also much influenced by my understanding of experiences and challenges that coordinators and voluntary sector leaders who have observed and face commitment issues with volunteers on almost a daily basis. Active conversations and reflections with those who manage, run, coordinate and lead voluntary cause-based initiatives forms the basis of my views. And here we are talking about aggregate of decades of experience and involvement in cause-based issues.
An interesting and timely Facebook conversation on this topic seeded in me the idea of writing this post to address a real issue that we all must address on our own individual levels after doing a fair and unbiased assessment of ourselves…..
Depending on which part of the world you live in, there are so many things that our lives directly touch. There are also so many more things that need to change and where our involvement can actually make a difference in making this world a better place; but these go untouched & unnoticed even when they happen right before our eyes. So what CAUSE should one “Own” and “Stand for”? The answer lies in the question.
Own & Stand for.
OWN: realities of one’s life defines this one: Owning a cause. There are 1001 things, and many more, that can be wrong around us and worthy of becoming a Cause. But which Cause does one own? Lets explore with some cases.
CASE 1. One identifies herself as a lesbian, or is an activist/academic/advocate for the LGTB issue, and/or is affiliated to one or more LGTB advocacy groups, etc. For this person owning the LGTB cause is natural, and makes sense, despite the existence of many other real and pressing issues that might not be able to compete for her “ownership” because of a lack of real & personal “stake” and commitment. For this person Owing the LGBT cause gives her a sense of identity, etc, because she has skin in the game! Literally! CASE 2. One is only a friend of a person who identifies herself as a lesbian, does no work for the LGTB movement/cause in any way, is neither committed to it in any helpful and obvious way, than in simply being a friend to a lesbian. In this case, claims of owning the LGBT cause and being part of the LGBT movement becomes a little sketchy and unconvincing because of a lack of any personal stake, commitment, fair gain, etc; though loyalty to the friend could be a face-saving last-resort argument. There is a case here that this person can actually OWN another cause that actually touches the person, and in which she has a real stake, not just cosmetic and extraneous. With regard to the LGBT cause, this person has no skin in the game! Literally! CASE 3. One is in no way related to the LGBT cause, might have some casual LGTB friend/ acquaintance, claims to be a “friend” of the cause based on this “qualification”, and casually promotes the cause a few random time on social media/conversations, has many more pressing social issue that the person is actually exposed to or in contact with in real life on a daily basis. For this person, owning the LGTB cause is as real as a fiction novel can get. Interacting with LGTB related content on social media, and hanging out once or twice with the lesbian friend/acquaintance does not add to owing a cause. In CASES 2&3, there is a strong argument that one could actually support a real cause that actually touches one on a daily basis and where one can actually make a difference and an impact; for which one can do something meaningful, specific and measurable in order to create and contribute a positive social change that addresses a pressing social ill that touches ones life and those around; and where there is some degree of sweat and toil involved in the form of actual effort.
STAND FOR: One Owns a cause; now standing for the cause is another thing. How does one effectively stand for a cause? The touchstone metric or measurability that adds credence to one’s commitment in standing for a cause, and the real vs cosmetic nature of doing so, is IMPACT.
What is the IMPACT one creates by Owning and Standing-up for a cause? (Differentiating between real vs cosmetic/designer Cause is important.)
Here is my take on Impact. One gets convinced/influenced about what cause to own and stand for, and hence create an Impact, based on one’s own value system and beliefs, and degree of sensitivity to one’s surroundings and reality . Here are some question sets that might help discern, with some fairness and acquity, the answer to the Own, Stand for, and IMPACT questions; and possibly what real (not cosmetic) cause can one Impact in a scalable way.
Question Set 1: What is the canvas of my life? What microcosm (college, company, society, etc) am I a part of; which in turn is part of what macrocosm (Country, contribution to GDP, the make in India movement, intellectual et al affiliations, sustainable human development and social index)? How do I see myself in this canvas of life? What do I understand is my responsibility based on my answers above?
Question Set 2: What are the top 10 biggest problems I see in my canvas of life that are an issue not only for me but also for my family, friends, neighborhood, city, etc.? Which of these 1o issues touch me directly in a way where I am in a position to help others (humans/ environment/animals), and where I have skin in the game? Most importantly, of the 10 biggest problems, as I understand them, which ones are actual social ills and issues that need correction and reform, where I can actually create an impact, and which needs me to standup to work to spread awareness about so that I can directly help other people or an issue in an impactful way?
Analysis set 1: A most practical approach to decide is looking at all this inside-out; starting from the closest touch-points to the least closest touch-point; listed below in order of importance, in my opinion.
- one’s health/finances/diet/well-being/development [and promoting this]
- our responsibility to our spouse & children, immediate family, work, and the bigger social circle
- issues in one’s house where one lives
- at-least one social ill that touches us (maybe a subject we are passionate about that also adds to the overall social good (India’s social ills are not hidden; and to these are intricately related economic and other ills)
- intellectual/cultural initiatives that add to the quality of life
There is a plethora of ills around us and that one can take-up. Staying focused on which one to commit to to create an Impact is important and a big responsibility. The list above can help us focus on being real and not get swayed by cosmetic or designer causes. And yes, there is no harm in interacting with content about any cosmetic/designer issues on social media. Another share/like will count somewhere; definitely in reinforcing our own beliefs and commitments. No harm in doing so.
In sum, the 5 categories in order are one way of focusing on real issues/problems of our worlds that will create a meaningful impact.
Yes, we all need to support real causes in our lives.
India has many socio-economic problems relating to its people and their lives. To make a society better first these need to be addressed.
So, who’s life did we touch today? Who’s life did we improve and make better?
Or did we take up a mere lifestyle/cosmetic/designer cause where our opinion/action is almost immaterial?
Let’s Own and Stand-for a real cause and create actual
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