Where do you begin, when you want to change the world?
Talk with those you love and respect – always a good beginning. Compare notes on what you think is important, what issues appeal to you. Then of course comes the homework, the research.
The Humanity Initiative has investigated hundreds of activist sites to discover the most compelling opportunities for positive change — organizations that have a legacy of vision, courage, and hard work — and that of course welcome volunteers.
Here below is our current selection of the most effective, efficient, clear-sighted, and planet-affirming non-profits on Earth.
First a quick shout out: In the inaugural issue of humanity (published in 1989), we featured an article on Ashoka, founded only eight years earlier by Bill Drayton. He, in fact, created the “changemaker revolution” and Ashoka is a captivating place to begin an investigation.
“The Humanity Top Ten” – for 2022
Amnesty International (1961)
Ashoka, Innovators for the Public (1980)
Doctors Without Borders (1971)
Human Rights Watch (1978)
International Peace Bureau (1891)
International Rescue Committee (1931)
Rainforest Action Network (1985)
Refugees International (1979)
Rotary International (1905)
World Wide Fund for Nature (1961)
Here are a half-dozen further candidates for your curiosity:
Charity: Water (2006) Charity: Water brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.
Earth Law Center (2008) Earth Law Center is a “think, share and do” organization that promotes recognition of the intrinsic value, interdependence, and legal rights of all Earth’s inhabitants and ecosystems.
Global Exchange (1988) Global Exchange is a research, education, and action centre dedicated to promoting people-to-people ties around the world. At the GXsite you can get involved in fair trade, education, global economy or human rights campaigns
International Volunteers for Peace (1920) IVP is an Australian community group, with an international perspective and contact branches in 50 countries world-wide. Its activities encourage understanding of social justice and environmental harmony.
The United Nations Volunteers Program (1971) UNV supports human development globally by promoting volunteerism and by mobilizing volunteers.
Search for Common Ground (1982) SCG is works to transform the way the world deals with conflict: away from adversarial approaches, toward cooperative solutions.
How to Transform Apocalypse Fatigue
Into Action on Global Warming
Here is Per Espen Stoknes speaking on the importance of climate action. The Norwegian psychologist and politician weaves together psychology and economics in imaginative ways, often revolving around our human relationships with the natural world and each other.
He describes five inner defences that prevent people from actively engaging with climate change: distance, doom, cognitive dissonance, denial, and our own identity. He then goes on to present ways in which we can move beyond them and toward a more brain-friendly type of climate communication that can help us make caring for our planet feel personable, doable, and empowering.
“To The Changemakers”
There is, of course, no end to the magnificence and horror in the human drama. Across the continents, humanity rises to every challenge, sinks to any depth. We bless nature’s miracles yet destroy them at will.
We accept this polarity as human nature then move on in our ‘glassy essence’. All the while our righteousness lords over other life; yet we beseech gods for mercy. Our anger flares to violence; yet we demand justice. We covet ceaselessly, give generously. We disregard our home Earth, pursuing science and technology towards blind success.
Not least, so many suffer relentlessly, wondering each day at living another. So many are refugees from disaster or violence, escaping under unfamiliar skies to avoid a closer death, grasping whatever it is they have left – their child, ragged clothes, a pot, a blanket. So many are victims of injustice, of the vagaries of despotism or of ill luck, with no legal system to which they can bring their wisps of hope.
Especially with the rapidly increasing vulnerability of life on Earth, how do we come to terms with this ‘marble and mud’ of our existence? How do we resurrect our humanity?
Within the stirrings of the last decade, there seemed a new grace born upon this world, a clearer understanding that our living – this heavenly breath of existence – must embrace an inherent responsibility towards the lives of all sentient beings. But it is a grace too often foundering on the greed and selfishness and myopia of the few, not raising the hopes and prospects of the many.
As our universal, intertwined fate becomes even more commanding, endlessly examined in our journals and debating chambers, in our barber shops and coffee houses; as leaders from all cultures increasingly commit to finding new ways to address poverty, war, famine, injustice and disease, let us again tilt world indeed towards the side of the angels. Let us lean together in kind accord with all the energy and enlightenment we can summon and honor this fragile, transcendent web of life gifted us by the gods.
Let us ask ourselves in profound reverence for life, “How deeply do I care about our common future? How can I make a positive difference?”
~ by Tony Balis
THI’s Museum of Inspiration (in progress)
Inspiration comes in many ways: from painting, sculpture, film, literature, speeches, poetry – the list is endless. The simple gift of awakening in another person the ability or willingness to create helps make the world a fascinating, dynamic place. So let’s celebrate and explore the many sources of inspiration that encourage humanity to thrive.
Inspire means to fill with a supernatural power or energy; to affect so as to enliven, animate, or especially, stimulate. This bibliography intends to fully embrace the range of all that inspires people.
We have listed below 31 categories that we will be curating with your suggestions (firstname.lastname@example.org). In selecting candidates, please consider whatever has inspired your life. What films or poetry have driven you to express yourself or have made you optimistic about the future of our world? What speeches have moved you to action? Or was it the Northern Lights or perhaps a random witness of kindness in a far village?
Music, plays, artwork, film, sculpture, architecture, essays, poetry, photographs — whatever has truly moved you.
Top ten lists are overdone and limiting. Ranking entries only adds an unnecessary layer of subjective reasoning to a process that is already based on individual thinking.
This museum project is successful only if we include suggestions and comments from across the continents, from many cultures, many experiences, many lives. Please share this invitation with friends and associates.
Adornment (clothing, jewelry, etc…)
Thomas Jefferson, Monticello USA
Antoni Gaudi, Sagrada Familia, Spain
The Alhambra, Spain
“The Negress” Henri Matisse
Rick Rivet, Canadian First Nations
IBM’s Smarter Planet Initiative, begun in 2008.
Culinary Arts (food, farming, agriculture)
Rabbit Proof Fence
2001: A Space Odyssey
“Humanistic film and media emphasizes human stories and seeks to define what is common among people rather than what separates us. In general, humanistic media has a message of reconciliation, even as such reconciliation arises from struggle and conflict, comedy or tragedy. Moreover, through tolerance and compassion, humanistic stories promote understanding and empathy between people, rather than dehumanize people into opposing camps where ‘the other’ is separate from ‘us’, whether that is because of race, religion, or political affiliation. A humanistic vision offers an alternative to a mythic world view that promotes melodramatic stereotypes and shallow storytelling.”
~ Don Thjompson, October 2009, Netpix.com (http://nextpix.com/v1_1/projects/humanmedia.html)
Franz Wright’s “Night Walk”
The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint- Exupery
Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
Middlemarch – George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)
Let us now Praise Famous Men – James Agee and Walker Evans
Up From Slavery – Booker Taliaferro Washington
Walden – Henry David Thoreau
Spectacle – David Rockwell and Bruce Mau
Perverse Optimist – Tibor Kalman
The Opposable Mind – Roger Martin
The Heart Aroused – David Whyte
Mother Nature (the most inspiring places to stand and listen and witness Mother Nature)
Milford Trek, New Zealand
K’naan (Somali troubadour)
Music/Indigenous (many sub-categories here)
Souad Massi – Houria
John Legend- Shine;
Yusef Islam- Maybe there/ World
The Beatles- All you need is Love
Stevie Wonder- Higher Ground
Hellen Keller: “Against the War” 1916, USA
Ataturk: “Message to the Gallipoli Fallen” 1934, Turkey
Churchill: “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” 1940, Great Britain
Eisenhower: “Farewell Address” 1961, USA
David Lange: “Nuclear Weapons Indefensible” 1985, New Zealand
Cesar Chavez: “Lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King” 1990, USA
F. W. Klerk: “Nelson Mandela Released” 1990, South Africa
Humanistic values in sport: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/timvickery/2011/12/la_u_accompliments_unforgettab.html
About thirty years ago, THI dreamed up a blueprint for reorganizing the dysfunctional way humankind is living on Earth. Perhaps it’s still useful as reminder of the different arenas in which to volunteer…
Earth Reorganization Blueprint
I A New Nationhood
Why we should abandon the current system of 212 states and establish a more workable, honorable and peaceful understanding of community. How to best implement this.
II Living arrangements
How to live more fluently, freely and sustainably with each other, more easily choosing living with cultural compatibility and diversity with each other. How to best honor the core considerations of living in dignity, safety and simplicity.
III Resource Use and Protection
How to better develop Earth-friendly power sources.
IV Animal Rights
How best to protect their lives and their passage on land, water and air.
V Ecosystem Rights
How to honoring and protect the ebb and flow of the natural world.
Sharing the wisest and most poetic dictums and ideas and music, diminishing the tendencies toward violence, reducing entrenched feelings of superiority.
How to better share this “information age” with all, without disrupting “quiet” or distant communities. Creating a positive, intelligent inquiry into what is happening every day, to all of us, thereby diminishing the simplistic, immature focus of current “news”. Creating real debate and inquiry.
VIII Festival and Sport
How to create more inclusive (and joyful) celebration of our cultural heritages and athletic endeavors.
Here’s a 2020 BBC article (even more relevant now) on taking action on climate crisis. Where we are and what you can do.