On May 20, 2015, I was watching an interview between Charlie Rose from The Morning Show on CBS and actor George Clooney. The two men were discussing Clooney's involvement with humanitarian emergencies in Sudan, the vastness of need and challenges of sustainability. At the end of their discussion, I was taken back by Clooney's comment: "When you look back on your life and they say 'What did you do?' I want to be able to say, I participated."
I repeated the words out loud: I participated. I was drawn to this simple statement and I knew in that moment that these two words were going to change the way I view my volunteer roles.
I think most people will say they want to make a difference in the world. Still, how many of us can honestly make that claim? Measuring the extent of our impact is not easy, and even when it is, we often come up short when comparing it to the vastness of needs around the world or in our own backyards.
However, when I view my involvements as participating, every little thing I do contributes to something that can make a difference. I'm not sitting on the sidelines only observing the needs that exist in my community and around the world. I'm in the game. I'm participating. Let me share an example.
One of my volunteer roles is with PEER Servants where I place college interns with indigenous microfinance organizations around the world. Am I making a difference in this role? I think so, but still, it's not easy to measure the impact. On the other hand, can I say that I'm participating in helping the materially poor in the world? Yes. I'm participating.
By participating, I don't feel the responsibility to make a huge impact or change the world on my own. Instead I can feel good about doing something, contributing, and giving of my time and talents.
Now I pose the question to you that Clooney answered in his interview. When you look back on your life and people ask, "What did you do?" how do you want to respond?
I want to be able to say: I participated.
Copyright 2015 Patrice Jenkins All Rights Reserved