It was Mahatma Gandhi, the pre-eminent leader of the Indian Independence movement in British-ruled India who said: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
There is an increasing number of people in Australia and the rest of the world who are holding onto Gandhi’s statement and becoming changemakers. But who is a changemaker? Of course, you really do not need a dictionary to define a changemaker. It’s someone who makes changes, right? Well, sort of. Everyone can make changes but we are talking about the changes that impact positively on society.
Social entrepreneurship organisation, Ashoka, provides an excellent definition for the word ‘change maker.’ According to Ashoka, a changemaker is an individual who desires change in the world and activates the process by gathering knowledge and resources to make the change a reality. Another definition given for changemaker is anyone who follows through with making a difference in society, regardless of the scale of the impact.
There are several reasons why people are prompted to make changes that have a dynamic impact on society. Let’s explore some of the reasons why the conscious changemaker movement is happening.
A Feeling that there is more to life
Many individuals have achieved Abraham Maslow’s highest hierarchy of needs which is self actualisation. They have reached their peak of success and now have the feeling that there is more to life than self gratification. As a result, they actively seek ways to reach out to those who are lesser fortunate than themselves. One of the world’s richest men, Bill Gates, started a foundation with his wife to help the less fortunate. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s mission is to help all people to lead healthy, productive lives. The organisation’s primary focus is on improving the health of individuals in developing countries and also provides an opportunity for them to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.
It’s hard to look at videos and images of children in lesser developed countries rummaging through the garbage for food without feeling any sympathy. Many will feel sympathy but many will get a stronger feeling than sympathy. They will feel compassion. Compassion is that emotion that will lead you to take action to change the situation that you find upsetting.
Before Blake Mycoskie started Tom’s Shoes, he was an entrepreneur who started five successful businesses. It was on a trip to Argentina that he was moved with compassion to find a way to get shoes for the many Argentinean boys and girls who walked barefooted daily. To date, his organisation has donated over 35 million pairs of shoes to the less fortunate.
Many individuals have reached breaking point seeing the injustices and disadvantages the poor face. Before Malala Yousefzai was shot in the head by a gunman while boarding a bus to get home, she was avidly campaigning for education for the girls in her country. She risked her safety by blogging about the lack of education for girls and also being an inside source for the BBC. Malala saw education as a vehicle out of poverty but the Taliban thought otherwise.
Luckily, the 15-year-old at the time, survived the attack and continued to campaign for education. Having survived the attack, Malala was not content to sit back despite receiving further threats to her life. She continues to campaign for her country to give the girls in Pakistan a chance to learn. Her campaign has increased awareness of the lack of education for girls in her country. Recently, she headed a petition list of 3 million signatures prompting the Pakistani government to pass a Right to Education Bill. Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2014 for her work.
A calling that can’t be ignored
More and more people are answering the call to do more and be more like Albanian/Indian nun, Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa said she was divinely called to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. She added that it was more like an order than a call and failure to accept the call would have meant breaking her faith.
Mother Teresa later founded the organisation, Missionaries of Charity, in 1950. Even after her death, the organisation continues to run soup kitchens, mobile clinics, hospices, schools, dispensaries, orphanages. Since its inception, Missionaries of Charity has helped millions of families living in poverty across the world.
The Parallel Giving Model Makes Changemaking Easier
The Parallel Giving concept has provided wings for more individuals to become changemakers, especially the entrepreneurs among us. Several business owners have been inspired by the one-for-one giving model and those who always wanted to make an impact on society but did not have the excess resources to do so, are finding that they can now make a significant change through parallel giving.
Everyone can be the change that they want to see in society. We do not have to wait on others who we think have more resources and influence to make the change. The change can begin with us. There is an old adage that says: “There are three types of people in the world, the people who make things happen, the people who watch things happen, and the people who wonder what’s happening.”
What type of person are you? Will you watch and wonder what happened or will you join the conscious changemaker movement and make things happen?
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