I will be 70 years old later on this year. I have always had a sense of purpose in my life though it took me some time to realise what it was. At the age of 45, I left the computer industry to set up a charity. I have now passed control of the work to young people who are doing an excellent job. But what does the future hold for me?
Putting it simply, I still want to change the world. In this article I aim to discuss the question of whether we can, or should, change things, and how can we go about it!
As I look at the world in which we all live, I see so much poverty, injustice, disease and misery. A few live in luxury while the majority live in poverty, or extreme poverty, not knowing where the next meal is coming from. The powerful exploit the weak and powerless through injustice and corruption. Many children living in poorer communities die needlessly through curable diseases. Even in developed countries people face the fear of cancer, heart disease and dementia.
- Is it arrogance to think that I, as an individual, can make any difference to this world?
- Is it wrong to think that human beings can improve their own destiny?
- Do we expect things to just get, “worse and worse”?
- Is the future pre-determined by God?
- Can we co-operate with God by being creative and making the world a better place?
My God created the universe, the cosmos, everything there is. I don’t care whether it took seven days or 14 billion years, the basic statement that God created it all is the foundation of my faith.
Of course, creation includes animals and humanity itself. Although there are physical similarities with some animals, I believe God’s creation of humanity involved something extra and special. We are told in Genesis that we were created, “in God’s image”. I believe that God gave us the ability to cooperate with Him in creation, so we can be creative too. Things went wrong along the line, so God sent Jesus to this world to reconcile us to him and to restore this creative relationship.
Creativity in action
Imagine a world without music and without art! Musicians like Beethoven or the Beatles, artists like Van Gough or Picasso, and sculptors like Donatello or Tracy Emin have enriched our lives and our culture. Their creativity has certainly made the world a better place. The source of that creativity may be God, but men and women have co-operated, (whether knowingly or not,) with their creator. None of this takes away anything from man’s amazing ability to be creative. But creativity is not limited to the arts:
- The scientist working in a laboratory, searching for a cure for a disease, is being creative in developing a drug not found in nature.
- A surgeon transplanting a heart in an operating theatre is being creative in a way that would have been impossible a few decades ago.
- A medical team working in a drought-striken area of Africa is being creative in bringing life to mal-nourished children.
- An engineer working on a project to bring new life to a community is being creative.
- A teacher inspiring students in the joy of learning is being creative and promoting creativity in others.
- A fund-raiser for a charity appealing to people’s generosity is helping to create a better world for the charity’s beneficiaries.
- A politician can strive to create better living conditions and fairer laws.
- A lawyer can help to create justice for the powerless who would otherwise be exploited.
What can we do?
I am not a scientist, a doctor, an engineer, teacher or a lawyer. But I care deeply about the people in the world, living with poverty, injustice, fear and disease. I am listing some possible ways that we can be creative and have some effect on our communities.
- Raising awareness. If people don’t know what is happening in the world, how can they change things?
- Forming public opinion. The media often claim that they are merely following public opinion – but the fact is that they do create public opinion. You only have to look at how some newspapers treat benefit ‘scroungers’ or asylum seekers to see that they do influence public opinion. The challenge to us is to know how to influence public opinion positively.
- Using Social media. Facebook comments and tweets have immense power to change attitudes. We must use these facilities wisely.
- Write blogs, letters to editors, magazine articles or even books.
- Talk to, or write to, your member of parliament so that they become aware of your concerns.
- Donate to a charity that seeks to create a better world.
- Join or support an organisation like International Justice Mission that actively works around the world. They create justice for those without the power themselves to take on exploitation.
- Initiate or at least sign paper, and on-line, petitions on issues you feel passionate about.
But what about me?
I have had two careers or ‘callings’ so far. After leaving school at 17, I spent 25 or so years in the computer industry (now known as I.T.). I was successful, but felt I wanted to give something back to society. 25 years ago I left a conventional career to set up a charity. When I was in Sri Lanka, two years ago I knew that it was time to ‘pass the baton on’ to younger people. I don’t consider myself as retired, but financially I am dependant on pensions and savings.
When I was in Sri Lanka, I started writing this blog and feel that I am entering my third ‘career’. I don’t know exactly where this will lead to, but like Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, “My race is not yet run”. Another way of putting this is when someone speaking prophetically over me said, “God hasn’t finished with you yet”.
So I aim to:
- Continue writing my blog on subjects such as overcoming poverty and injustice.
- Be active on Social Media, in particular on Facebook.
- I would like to engage with people through public speaking, but to be honest I still need healing, emotionally, and by the physical effects of a stroke.
- Be involved in, and maybe start on-line petitions.
- Maybe write a book.
- Be open to other possibilities.
- Above all I want to creatively do my part in changing the world.