Sadly we live in a world where the dominant news gracing our TV's, newspapers and social media every day is a story of some kind of human cost and tragedy.
It can become very overwhelming and make us feel helpless.
As an individual it is unrealistic to think we change the world, but making a difference in the world ~ or making a difference to even one person's world ~ is possible.
A couple of years ago I was having lunch at a local venue and there were thousands of people walking around with lanyards around their neck. Someone sat down beside me and I was able to read what they were attending. The Happy Conference. Intrigued I googled it (thanks technology!) and discovered that these thousands of people paid over $1,000 to attend a conference to teach them how to be happy. I was gobsmacked!
If there is one common thread across all cultures and people, it's the quest to find meaning and purpose for your life ~ to be able to know that who you are and what you do matters in the world and that ultimately this will bring happiness. Spending big dollars on a 'Finding Happiness' conference is a good example. If you google finding happiness or finding the meaning of life you will be given a whole range of differing opinions and philosophies on the subject.
But, what if your search for meaning could begin to solve the world’s problems?
What if everything you are passionate about could save a life or change history?
I recently read a book 'A Selfish Plan to Change the World ' by Justin Dillon acclaimed social activist, filmmaker, and musician and founder of Slavery Footprint and Made In A Free World which Justin describes as your 'self help -others' guide to a life that matters', demonstrating how you can re-purpose your existing talents, backstory and networks to improve the lives of others.
Justin takes you on this amazing journey asking us to look at global challenges like poverty and injustice through a different mindset. While pity is something that we all feel — but what’s inside of every one of us, and something that’s far more powerful than pity is our capacity for parity — the acknowledgment that we are connected to those who live very different lives.
Justin describes two Poverties ~ Poverty of Means & Poverty of Meaning. He discusses how the lack of resources and power that impoverish so many across the world, their “poverty of means”, is echoed in the “poverty of meaning” in the lives of so many who in other respects seem wealthy. His “selfish plan to change the world” then relates to addressing this poverty of meaning by engaging those who lack purpose with the challenge of empowering those who lack means. I love the simplicity of this description.
If I relate this to our work at AusCam, we have hundreds of girls who live in the impoverished communities of Cambodia and have a need for an education but their 'poverty of means' prevents them from this basic human right. But when we share this need ~ everyday people respond ~ perhaps out of their 'poverty of meaning'. ?
Is it really that simple? If we hear of a need and we have the ability to provide that need, will that give us the purpose and meaning we are looking for in our lives? I dont have all the answers here ~ in fact no body really does, but using Justin's description helps me to put my own life in to perspective.
Geoff and I live simply since founding AusCam. We live off 1 salary, we rent a modest apartment and drive a 13 year old car. I will be honest, sometimes we do stop and wonder where we would be today if we didn't go to Cambodia. We certainly had a very comfortable life. Maybe we would be living in a beautiful big house, driving the latest Range Rover Discovery and getting ready to retire, (but I doubt it!) but would all that really matter if we then spent the rest of our lives searching for meaning and purpose.
What I do love about our life is that we have each other, we are blessed by a beautiful loving family, we have wonderful and supportive friends, and so many people who are selflessly walking our AusCam journey with us. Knowing we are somehow making a difference in the life of someone else does bring me a sense of fulfillment and enormous gratitude for our life. It doesn't mean that we are not faced with challenges, that some days I feel sad and unhappy, and that I may feel frustrated that I cant have that new dress or those boots that I just saw in Myer.
I think it is unrealistic to believe that we can live a life only filled with happiness. But I do believe that if we don't spend our lives constantly looking inwards and we focus on what we can do for someone else every day then you are on the right track for finding meaning and purpose.
I feel so encouraged by our community of supporters and the knowledge that this world is filled with people who choose to live an outward - looking life. Who choose not to look the other way and who choose to use their 'poverty of meaning' to help alleviate the 'poverty of means' for a person that they dont even know.
“DILLON CHANNELS THE HEART CRY OF A GENERATION WHO WANTS TO LIVE LIVES OF MEANING AND HOPE, BUT DON’T KNOW HOW. WITH AN ARTIST’S CRAFT, HE DRAWS THE READER IN THROUGH STORIES OF EVERYDAY PEOPLE WHO HAVE FOUND A WAY TO LIVE THEIR SOUL DREAM. HE INVITES US TO CONSIDER HOW IN GIVING WE WILL GAIN, AND TO JOIN A GLOBAL TRIBE OF DOERS, NOT TALKERS.”
JACQUELLINE FULLER PRESIDENT OF GOOGLE.ORG AND GOOGLE FOUNDATION
Founder & International Program Director
PROTECTION & EMPOWERMENT THROUGH EDUCATION, MENTORING & LIFE SKILLS
AusCam Freedom Project believes girls should be 'taught not trafficked'.
You can set a girl free by sponsoring her education here: