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Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19 Is World Humanitarian Day

In recognition of World Humanitarian Day, I'm taking a moment to reflect on what it is that embodies humanitarianism.

Traits that often come to mind include: selflessness, a sense of justice and equanimity for all persons, willingness to sacrifice for a particular cause, a desire to help others achieve success.

Sometimes when I think about it, its easy to become a little cynical and question whether anyone who seems selfless is truly not out for some sort of personal gain too. In the media, we often hear about celebrities such as Bono, Oprah, Princess Diana, and Angelina Jolie who stand (or have stood) behind various causes and use their celebrity status as a forum to promote awareness and such for their cause. Yet in a way, I also feel that if a person is going to live a life of fame and fortune, it means something if they dedicate a part of their lives to a purpose that goes beyond languishing in luxury.

There's also those who have become famous (or perhaps even infamous) because of their efforts. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, or Oskar Schindler come to mind. I feel that those in this category are the ones who in essence, became their cause...they lived their lives in an effort to better the world, or their corner of it at least. They did not seek fame or riches or reward. They saw, or many times witnessed firsthand, an injustice and decided to do something about it.

I have my own causes and social issues I feel are important as I'm sure many of us do. I support them as I am able and do my little part to raise awareness. It may not be much, but it is a start. The point is, I am a big believer that at least part of our purpose on this earth is to leave it a little better than we found it. We've all seen ways injustice and/or ignorance is able to permeate society and draw a dividing line between groups of people.

What are some causes/issues that are meaningful or perhaps even personal to you?  What do we need more of in order to see these causes through? How might you use what you learn and live on your daily path to become a humanitarian in your own part of the world? 


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