First World Problems: Doing Work that Matters

It’s so innocuous that we don’t even notice it, this race we run every day. How often do you stop to ponder whether the work you dedicate yourself to actually helps make the world better?

I know I don’t ponder it often, if at all. But lately I’ve been wondering if I am making the best use of my God-given skills and talents to better the world.

And if I’m not, what then?

In many ways, I can say yes. When I partner with companies and nonprofits that are helping people, my work helps to tell the great stories of courage and change that they are effecting.

My stories help garner support, and funding, and volunteers, and more, to further their important work. So they can reach more people, help more people.

Sometimes, though, my work focuses on increasing the customer population for a business. Which is good in some ways, in that the business generates revenue and the customers are satisfied by their transaction.

But making the world better? In the first world, do we really know what that means?

Rather than get all preachy, I’ll step back and review the Big Problems of the world and brainstorm ways I can help create solutions.

If it’s children needing foster families, then I can feel good about the media stories I secure on behalf of my client, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan. If it’s families needing a roof over their heads, then the stories I tell on behalf of client Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County are valuable.

If it’s seniors finding purpose and activity late in life, then the stories I offer on behalf of Jewish Senior Life go far.

Those are but a taste of the clients I represent; I only take on clients whose work is meaningful and with an eye to the greater good.

What about people suffering through poverty, unable to find work or feed their children? What about older adults who are lonely and forgotten? What about children unable to read and thus falling out of school and onto the streets?

And what about the people outside of my own secure, wealthy country, living in rural villages without access to medical care or medicine, or where sanitation is a challenge?

This is why we have long lives to live. There is so much to accomplish, so many people to help. I sometimes forget the power that little old me (and little old you, and you, and you) has to truly help others.

And I’m ashamed to say, I often get caught up in my own swirl of first world problems like happiness and clothing and vacations and whining about how cold it is in Michigan while the radiators in my house hiss with hot air all night long.

I guess I’m saying I’m experiencing a wake-up call. Not sure what I’m going to do about it, but I do hope something. Every day is another opportunity to make a difference, one word at a time, one smile at a time.

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