The news is disturbing, not just in our own country but around the world. We are all just “tuckered out”, as my grandmother would say, with sensationalism, fear mongering and what appears to be a trend of hatred. At first, we were shocked and horrified, putting our fingers in the dyke of our infrastructure as it appeared to fall apart, springing leaks right and left.
And the more leaks it sprang and continues to spring, the more we realize that our infrastructure is broken and badly in need of a rehaul, a refurbishment. It simply doesn’t work the old way - where money and power consistently trump human values.
The thing about transformational shifts, is that nothing can happen, no progress can be made, until there is an awakening. We can receive little nudges and prompts all day long, but until that universal 2 x 4 knocks us to our feet, we often don’t shake the cobwebs out of our head and open our eyes to the reality of the situation.
Transparency has become the most significant word of this decade. We want an unfiltered lens so our voices can be heard about gender parity, sexual harassment, gun violence, drug addiction and the threat of nuclear war. We want to see the good, the bad and the ugly. We are the drivers who slow down traffic when some poor soul has had an accident, to see and then thank God that we are not in the car.
And this gut-wrenching view of our world can be exhausting, tugging on every emotion that we have, filling our minds with so many details and so much digital overload that there are times we don’t feel tethered to “reality”. I have had some tell me they feel like they are sitting in a black noir movie, they see the satirical commentary, but they also get that it touches squarely on our humanity.
We are definitely in the ring, but we are slowly picking ourselves up and beginning to think about the appropriate way out of this mess. It’s very easy to feel like you are personally front and centerstage of every single traumatic incident you read about or watch. You are human and heart-connected, and your natural inclination will be to place yourself in the shoes of the person or people you read about. I caution you that this path can lead to paralysis and that is not what we need right now.
We need action, all hands “on deck” participating in the building of new infrastructures, ones that are better, more solid and more resilient when the hard times come, ones that put humanity first. The words social responsibility feel vague. People ask me frequently what corporate social responsibility, social innovation or social impact mean exactly. I remind them that the operative word is social.
Social relates to our society and the way that we are organized, our companionship and commitment to each other to survive in the best way we know how as a species. When we throw in the word corporate, we are simply saying that the businesses that we have created as human beings must have a sense of duty to the collective. They are not just virtual institutions tasked with making money with the hope of making their investors wealthier or climbing ranks on the NASDAQ.
They should be asking, and thankfully many are, if the people that come to work each day are valued in ways bigger than financial compensation? Do the vendors feel like they are part of a team with a universal vision or is everyone tucked away in their own competitive silos? Bringing it to the lowest common denominator, is the society of people that make up your company doing damage to our planet and communities with a negative impact or are they focused on leaving a positive one?
Finally, our eyes are opening, and we are asking the big questions about how to sustain humanity. Social responsibility is not just about philanthropy, cutting a check and then getting back to business. It’s not about the health and welfare of “that” person, it’s about the safety and security of the one in the mirror and those you impact. Not all of the world’s problems are yours but they may become your children’s. So, dust off and jump in with a hand extended to the guy behind you. This is not the time to leave anyone behind.
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Linda Lattimore - all rights reserved