With Words, We Can Help Create a Better World

This week I was struck by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ comment during the U.N. General Assembly and Global Goals Week: “We are a world in pieces. We need to be a world at peace.”

It’s easy to become overwhelmed, however, at the prospect of trying to put all those pieces back to together again. A first step may be taking great care with our words. Language is powerful and can unite us or divide us depending on how it’s wielded. As the great philosopher Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once told his daughter: “Words create worlds.”

Go There

We also need to seek out voices that too often go unheard and that means speaking to people who are different from us, and who make us different.

Wondering how you can “go there?” Try volunteering.

Through volunteering, you invest in people. You can see parts of your community you never even knew existed; you can get out of your comfort zone; you can take action and create real change.

Volunteering Is Transformative

If you’re a corporation, check out IMPACT2030, the only private sector-led coalition, in collaboration with the U.N. and others, that’s aligning human capital investments through employee volunteering in the service of the Sustainable Development Agenda. My company is an IMPACT2030 partner, and for the next 13 years, we’ll be mapping our volunteering to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

If you’re an individual or part of a group, visit sites like www.volunteermatch.org and www.unitedway.org to view volunteer opportunities close to home.

But Start With Words

Right after college, I became an AmeriCorps volunteer. The experience was life-changing – and taught me a lot about words. How I spoke to and about the six young women in my care (I was a residential counselor in a group home) determined how they would respond to me, what hurts they might share with me, and how we might grow together.

I’m convinced we can create a better world. We can educate ourselves on global challenges, pick one (or three or five) that we’re passionate about, and start talking about it.

We can use words to build bridges of friendships and understanding and to dismantle barriers. We can use words to lessen the roughness of the world, and instead, expand hope.

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