Humanity is great. Humans, not so much

humanityI have a friend who says “I love humanity, but I hate people.”  I understand why she can say such a seemingly contradictory statement. It seems sometimes that “some [individual] people” act in ways that give the rest of us a bad rep, causing the rest of us to just shake our collective heads.

But a new global survey published last month offers reassuring evidence that people intend to be caring contributors to humanity. I’ve learned recently that everyone is doing their best to create a world for themselves that represents the best of their ideals. They have their reasons for doing what they’re doing. It’s often worth it to understand what those reasons are.

In fact billions of people are giving their time and money, as individuals or as part of a charity, to improve other individual lives or society in general. Here’s a breakdown of the data:

44% worldwide say they helped a stranger in the past month

27% donated money to a charity

20% volunteered their time to an organization

It surprises me that the United States ranks number two among countries whose people help others in need:

Buddhist countries, according to the survey, usually top the list because Buddhism stresses donating time and money at temples. Churches in the US stress this too. But the survey particularly looked at how much people directly helped a stranger, which is something, I (probably incorrectly) think most Americans don’t do simply because we’re too busy.

The survey report offers the following about the results:

Encouraging citizens to share responsibility for the problems facing their communities and getting them to participate in solving them is arguably one of the most important tasks for global leaders in the years to come.

I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think our current crop of leaders are up to the task which is making the fundamental changes we need to happen on the planet so it really is up to us. Thankfully, there are billions of people doing things to make other people’s lives better around the world today. The majority of that work, according to the survey, involves helping strangers. That help often entails benefitting another in a way the giver will never see.

This is encouraging for the work we’re doing. When more people find out what we’re doing and the results our work is producing, they will turn their volunteerism towards the goal we all believe is possible. Whether it’s humanity or people, I think it’s all not just good, but great.

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