Wars. Famines. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Slavery. Oppression. The list goes on and on. We are force-fed a steady diet of doom and gloom on a daily basis. If you imagine that all the horrible news stories are like junk food, and all the good news stories are like fruits and vegetables, then our diet is killing us. But is there more junk food in the world than fruits and vegetables? It looks that way because of the news media. But the fact of the matter is, there is an ample supply of fruits and vegetables, and it can be available to us all. We just have a look a little harder to find it.
I personally do not watch the news. It is like poison to my brain. It makes me so unhappy, and I despair for the human family. I empathize and internalize to such a degree that I can almost feel the pain of the people experiencing the horrible conditions they are subjected to. While empathy is a good thing, constantly absorbing the pain of others is poison to the soul. So I cut the junk food of the evening news out of my life, and instead, seek for the good in the world.
With every natural disaster or other calamity, the news focuses on the destruction and despair. But in most cases, there is a huge humanitarian effort that follows that receives very little airplay. It is here that we can see the best of humanity, reaching out to one another in service and love. Additionally, there are many organizations with ongoing missions to help uplift and serve our fellow man. Here are just a few. (By clicking on the links, you can go to the organization’s homepage and find out how you can help):
The LDS Church has a humanitarian arm called LDS Charities that provides help to millions around the world each year, regardless of race, religion, or ethnicity. They send food and clothing to areas that have experienced natural disasters. They also train medical personnel around the world in neonatal resuscitation methods which saves the lives of an estimated one million mothers and babies each year. They bring clean water, improved sanitation, and proper hygiene training to over a million people each year, as well as provide wheelchairs, vision care, and immunizations to at-risk children in developing countries.
KIVA is a wonderful organization that provides micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. This allows these people to gain the small amount of capitol they need to start or improve their businesses. There is a picture and a short bio of each person or group hoping to receive a loan with an explanation of how the money will be used. Donations are only $25, and when the loan is repaid, your money goes back into a fund that can then be re-loaned to another group or individual. So for only $25, you can loan and re-loan many, many times. I personally have helped fund loans to people in Cambodia, Peru, Kenya, Kosovo, and many other countries. You can pick who you want to loan to, or once your original loan is repaid, you have the option of letting Kiva auto-loan to whomever is in the most need at the moment.
Most of us think that slavery was abolished. However, there are still millions of children being kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery. Operation Underground Railroad was founded to help rescue them and give them a future. Tim Ballard worked as an undercover U.S. government agent rescuing children and prosecuting their captors for 12 years. However, his hands were tied when the perpetrators were outside the jurisdiction of the American government. So he quit his job and founded Operation Underground Railroad. He, along with other team members, travels around the world, setting up sting operations to capture the criminals and set the enslaved children free. Elizabeth Smart (who was kidnapped at age 14 herself) is on the board of directors.
To the Market is an online store that sells items made by survivors of slavery, disease, and abuse. It provides a way for them to sustain themselves and their families as they overcome their challenges. In the store, you can find beautiful hand-made jewelry, scarves, bags and apparel.
These are just a few of the organizations doing good in the world. There are many, many more. What organizations do you know of that are bringing hope and light to mankind? Please share in the comments! I would love to get a long list of those who are making this world a better place!
Remember–just as you choose what you put in your body, you choose what you put in your mind. Give yourself a steady diet of goodness, and you will be happy.
If you missed any previous installments in the Happiness series, you can find them all on my Happiness page.