Last week, one of my closest friends asked me a really interesting question.
And even though I write blog posts in hopes of answering life’s tough questions, I’ve actually never given this question any thought before she asked it to me:
“What do you think is the biggest problem that’s facing our world?”
That sounds like a pretty tough question to answer, doesn’t it?
Depending on your point of view, it could be a number of things: Negativity, workplace bullying, a lack of kindness, intolerance, terrorism, Miley Cyrus…who knows?
For me, finding the answer to this question was actually a lot easier than I thought.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one real problem facing our world.
In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that if there’s one question that we should be asking ourselves, starting today, it should be this one:
“Are we contributing to this world-destroying problem or are we a part of the world-saving solution?”
Either way, let’s find out.
The Real Problem
Without question, I believe that the #1 problem facing our world is a simple, but very widespread, problem:
Apathy. Indifference. Simply not giving a shit.
Most of you know what I’m about by now.
In case you’re new here, you’ll soon find out that I am freakishly committed to creating a world where we all learn to treat each other with kindness, respect, dignity, and acceptance at work, home, and every place in between.
Make no mistake about it, I am a kindness extremist, and I’m 100% okay with that.
I am obsessed with making the world a nicer place for all of us, and if my dream comes true, we will all get to live in a world that’s far better than anything we’ve ever experienced.
Workplaces all over the world will transform when respect and kindness share equal importance with quarterly profits and shareholder margins. Connecting with others outside of work will happen more easily and more frequently when we realize that we are all far more similar than we are different. Hell, in a nicer world, even going to the DMV might be an enjoyable experience.
This all sounds great, right? Who in their right mind doesn’t want to live and work in a nicer world?
Surprisingly, more people than you would think.
If you don’t believe me, here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
Apathy in Action
A while ago, I struck up a random conversation with a lady in line at the Post Office, and since I was rocking my smiley face logo t-shirt, we eventually ended up talking about the blog that you’re currently reading.
Instantly, I became fired up when I started talking about The Positivity Solution’s mission of making the world a kinder, nicer, and better place to work and live for millions of people. I swear, as I was talking, this woman looked at me like I sprouted a third eyeball in the center of my forehead. When I was done, she politely replied:
“Uh…wow, you really care a lot about this ‘changing the world’ stuff, huh?”
My response (sincerely surprised by the fact that she was surprised): “Yeah, I do. Don’t you?”
Lady at the Post Office (barely acting like she had a pulse): “Yeah, I guess. It’s just not that important to me.”
Me (speaking silently to myself): “Not that important?! Are you kidding me lady??”
As I walked out of the Post Office that night, I had a private, but very real moment of self-doubt as I drove home.
“Am I crazy for thinking that people should deeply care about making the world a better/nicer/more loving place, or is it really not that important to most people?”
I needed a larger sample size before I came to a conclusion.
So, the next day I hit up a few of my friends, coworkers, and readers and asked them their honest thoughts about how they felt about making the world a nicer place.
It was only then that I finally figured everything out.
In my informal poll, 100% of the people confidently said that they all wanted to live in a nicer world, but far less than 100% believed that it was possible to do it. Even worse, far less were willing to put in any effort to make it happen.
Some people barely even cared, just like the lady in the Post Office.
The problem was now crystal clear.
The real problem aren’t the jerks and asshats of the world. Far from it. The real problem in this story are the people who don’t give enough of a damn to make an effort to make this world a better place for all of us.
Apathy. Indifference. Not giving a shit.
That’s what I’m fighting against.
I Have a Dream Too
Coincidentally, today is the day that we celebrate the life of a person who most definitely gave a shit about people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
There’s no doubt that in the 1960’s, quite a few people thought what he was doing was pretty damn unrealistic. Every day I’m thankful that he didn’t listen to the naysayers, the haters, and yes, the apathetic, because if he did, who knows if I’d be in the position to write these blog posts and fully go after my own dream?
His dream was to one day get black people and white people to eventually join hands together as brothers and sisters in racially segregated states like Alabama in the 60’s. All I’m trying to do is get people to be nicer to each other at work and outside of work in 2014 and beyond.
This might sound crazy to say, but if he could accomplish his crazy dream, then why can’t I accomplish my crazy dream too?
Just in case anyone is getting it twisted, let me be painfully clear about something–I’m not even slightly comparing myself to the excellence of Dr. King. What I’m trying to do is follow his blueprint to change the world.
He was a man who had a dream to change the world when many thought that it wasn’t possible. I’m a guy who has a dream to change the world, even though many people tell me on a consistent basis that it’s not possible.
This might sound weird to some of you, but I stay awake at night wondering what life would be like if we eliminated bullying and other soul-crushing behavior from the workplace forever. I stay awake at night wondering what life would be like if people found the courage to ruthlessly remove toxic relationships from their personal lives. I stay awake at night wondering what life would be like if companies all over the world grew a set of cajones and made kindness, dignity, and respect equally as important as turning a profit. I stay awake at night wondering what life would be like if people learned to love and accept themselves fully.
To some people, my dream may sound unrealistic. To them, that’s reason enough not to care or to try.
To me, that’s a cop-out.
The size and difficulty of the dream didn’t stop Dr. King, so why should it stop me?
I have a dream to make the above points a reality, because unquestionably, that would make my young daughters’ lives better when they get older. It would make every working professional’s life better. It would make my life better. It would make your life better too.
That’s why I will always give a shit.
It’s also why I’ll never understand people who don’t.
What Do You Care About?
In case you thought this blog post was about making the world a nicer place, it’s not. That’s my dream–I have no clue if it’s yours.
The real point of this blog post is to ask you this: Do you care enough to make this world a better place in your own special way by going after your own dreams?
On a daily basis, I run into people who have allowed apathy to defeat them and their dreams. I can hear their sad, defeated voices now:
“Going to work will never be an enjoyable experience. I’m just here to collect a paycheck and try to stay sane until I eventually retire.”
“True love and happiness will never happen for me. This situation is as good as it will ever get for me, I guess.”
“My dream isn’t worth the effort. I’ll probably end up failing anyway, so what’s the point?”
Trust me, I’m not naive. I know that apathy is going to end up defeating some people, that’s a given and I get it. But it can’t be you. The world needs you.
I need you.
The only way that this world will become a more positive place is if as many people as possible choose to wake up and give a damn about their dreams and their happiness today.
Not tomorrow, not “someday,” TODAY.
Dr. King cared a lot about his dream, and because of that, he changed the world. I’m telling you that if you place the same level of belief and care into your dreams, you will change your life too.
Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up changing the entire world.
But any hope of either of those things happening are a complete impossibility unless you give a damn.
So, here’s the million dollar question:
Do you care enough to make this world a better place in your own special way?
I’ve already given you my answer.
Have you ever allowed apathy to get in the way of your hopes and dreams? Do you have a personal story of how apathy and indifference can potentially derail your happiness? If so, jump in and make your voice heard!