The greatest need

This question has been on my heart for a couple months now: “What is the greatest need, that if solved, would have a positive ripple effect on all other needs?” I’ve been considering it most often as I try to figure out which cause I would like to invest more of my time in from a charitable standpoint.

I’ve also considered it more lightheartedly in my own life as Mitch and I prioritize how we spend our “down time” (maybe you saw my recent post about Randi Zuckerberg’s Pick Three concept). At work we offer so many solutions that can save clients time and money, we talk about what their most pressing needs are and how can we build a holistic plan to help based on what they feel is important.

Part of the problem is we don’t have all the data. Where is the research showing what the greatest need is? What to invest in to make you the happiest? How will you know that investing time and money in this area will truly have the greatest return?

Last night we saw To Kill a Mockingbird at The Giving Tree Theater. That place is one of my favorite spots in town, especially as the weather turns. It’s quaint, cozy, and welcoming. They have a wonderful theater community, and this show was wonderful. Throughout the controversial story, the under appreciated Atticus kept reminding the children that although people make mistakes and do crazy things we don’t understand, they are still people.

I realized maybe the greatest need is for us to change our perception and take action. Stop judging. Start forgiving. Stop talking. Start walking.

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the show that inspired this realization:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

There are so many powerful stories of people who find themselves in seemingly hopeless situations because of an unfortunate series of events. Or find themselves on the brink of suicide in the midst of a seemingly perfect life. Instead of spending our energy on judging them and their choices, why don’t we spend that energy helping them get back to a good place?

I often hear people say they don’t have time or money to help. Or things are so dire there is nothing one person can do to change the situation. I understand that point of view, I’ve been there. I’ve also seen the power of a dollar or an offer to hold the door. Those small gestures can have a huge effect on someone who is feeling down. There is always something you can do.

At the very least, use your voice to change the narrative.
Instead of “what’s wrong with that person?” try “how could I help that person?”
Instead of “I’m just one person so I can’t change it.” try “I am one person and can do one thing to change it.”

What will you do to help fulfill the greatest need?

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