In my personal blog, I have written about giving credence to wisdom found in various, even unusual places (https://balancebeams.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/finding-wisdom-everywhere/), but this article deals with the wisdom that can only be found in the energy created by working with our fellow human beings. By the very nature of working together, we create strength and wisdom beyond the reach of any one of us. The greatest wisdom is to achieve Peace, and, by definition, world peace can only be achieved through group effort. If the needs of individuals are met, there will be peace in the self and peace in society.
There are many examples available in our society of individuals and organizations that work to fulfill those needs, but these few will illustrate the point:
- Acknowledging the importance of Peace: The dual PeaceBuilders Awards were created by Global and Multicultural Education, and are awarded each year to both an organization that works for peace and to an individual who works for peace. Recently, those awards were given to Cultural Crossroads, Inc., as the organization, and to Alvin Sykes, as the individual, honored for the 2019 year. Global and Multicultural Education (known locally as G.A.M.E.) understands and honors the work done by organizations and individuals as foundational to the establishment of peace in our communities.
- Acknowledging the importance of working for Peace: The vision for United Religions Initiative dates from 1993, the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, as an idea of bringing together religious people to work for peace, like the UN was a collection of nations working for peace. URI was formally created in 2000. Since that time, URI engages in a wide range of programs and actions in areas as far-reaching as conflict resolution and advocacy for human rights. Where URI fits into the ideas of this article is that it works through Cooperation Circles (groups of individuals and organizations) to work on specific issues and attain certain goals. Again, URI understands that by working together in furtherance of a common goal, diverse individuals and organizations acquire a greater power and understanding than is available working solo.
- Acknowledging the need for education. The Human Spirit is a permanent library collection of multicultural and multifaith materials, for adults, teachers and children, located at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library system. While the collection is the inspiration and creation of Cultural Crossroads, it would not boast the depth and breadth of materials if it were not for a solid, working partnership among Cultural Crossroads board members, directors of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, staff of the Kansas City Public Library System, and input from multicultural leaders and teachers throughout the world.
- Acknowledging the need for shelter: Habitat for Humanity, is one of the best-known cooperative ventures in affordable housing. Not many are aware that it was first conceived on a small farm in rural Georgia, was cultivated by specific activity in Zaire, and, finally, founded as an ongoing international program in 1976. Over the years, this idea has grown until now, according to its website, Habitat works in almost 1400 communities in the United States and approximately 70 other countries. The contribution of President Carter is well-known and celebrated, but Habitat would not be the force it is in the world without the work of countless individuals, who pick up a hammer for a day or for a season and do the hard work of providing housing.
- Acknowledging the need for food: Many people are aware of Harvesters, but may not be aware that Harvesters is a member of a nationwide network – the Feeding America cooperative network. As the story is told, the concept of food banks began in Arizona, when a mother searching for food for her children suggested the idea to a volunteer, who then created the first US food bank in Phoenix, Arizona. Obviously, the idea that was born from this chance conversation between two people has grown to a movement much larger than either of the participants in that conversation.
Synergy like these examples can only happen when people work together, pooling ideas and energy to create something greater than individuals could achieve working alone. Not only does such cooperation result in greater creativity and the achievement of goals, but there is another benefit – the increased wisdom and confidence of the individuals involved.
Cultural Crossroads encourages everyone to live with open minds and open hearts. Make a first small step to become involved in the world – there is always a way for you to make a difference. (Some examples of how to work in concert with others, even in small ways, can be found on the Cultural Crossroads website under the tab Building Community, where you will find ways to get involved and ways to help even when you don’t have time or money to invest.)
By the very act of joining with others to create good in society, that good is first experienced in the minds and hearts of the actors. It is a well-known saying that every act, for ill or well, is returned many-fold to the actor. Nowhere is the truth of that saying more evident than in the cooperative efforts to improve the lives of the others with which we share our planet.