The Think Smaller Blog is an eight-part editorial series that strives to change the world by empowering anyone to take small, yet potent actions in their community. Taken collectively, we believe these changes can add up to make an incredible difference. Check back every Monday for the latest update.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

A World in Crisis

There are, without a doubt, countless problems in the world today.

In Africa — amidst rampant conflict, famine, and inadequate access to clean drinking water — there is an ongoing HIV epidemic which few media outlets feel wont to talk about.

In Central and South America, deforestation occurs at a breakneck pace. A failed war on drugs has fueled the growth of para-military like cartels. And millions of men, women, and children live in extreme poverty.

Rapid economic growth in Asia is rapidly diminishing air quality in the region and increasing the effects of man-made climate change. While authoritarian regimes limit citizens’ access to knowledge, information, and opportunity.

Terror attacks, civil war, and political unrest in the Middle East have many fleeing their homelands, fearing for their lives, and constantly wondering whether they will be the next victim of an air raid or road side bomb.

Europe and North America, too, are not immune to trouble. Partisan politics are at an extreme. The division between left and right is wider than ever. And consensus builders are few and far between.

Caught in the middle are more than one million men and women experiencing homelessness, tens of millions living in poverty, hundreds of millions living with a mental illness, and myriad minority groups who struggle to have their needs met and their rights fully recognized.

A Heavy Burden

If you feel like the bad in the world too often outweighs the good, you’re not alone. The scale of these issues can seem overwhelming. They are massive, and they are global. At some point, each of these issues will touch every single one of the 7.2 billion people on earth, at least once.

The negativity is heavy enough to lead even the most resilient optimist to wonder if there is futility in hope.

It’s what you see when you open your social media apps. It’s in the headlines of every major newspaper. And it’s the lead story, every evening on the six o’clock news: An endless stream of corruption, greed, pain, scarcity, and destruction — and everyone, just trying to cope.

But through it all, we still maintain a positive outlook. And we believe you should too. Because the scale of help is equally large. And it is well-equipped to tackle humanity’s greatest challenges.

A Call to Hope

In 2015, charitable organizations around the world numbered more than 1.5 million. Their mission? Solving complex social issues on either a local, national, or global level. And most do an incredible job, making a real difference in the lives of real people, animals, and the environment.

These organizations, however, cannot do the work they do without the support of generous, well-intentioned men and women whose time and money act as the means to achieving their ends.

The problems of the world are far too large for any one person to solve. But something beautiful happens when people band together to pool their collective financial, intellectual, and labour resources. Change is suddenly possible. Justice is achievable. Solutions and opportunities reveal themselves. These problems no longer seem so overwhelming.

Join a Movement

No one person ever started a revolution on their own. But groups of people united under a common cause have overthrown tyrants, established empires, ushered in democracy, cured diseases, ended wars, and created hope for a better tomorrow.

The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

If you want to change the world, your job is not to single-handedly solve every problem facing human-kind. It is to find a cause that speaks to your heart and to make it part of your life’s purpose.

Identify an organization or group that you believe is doing great work to address that issue. Support that organization by donating your time and money. Or, find a way to make their mission your career. Spread that organization’s message however and whenever you can.

And, most importantly, always and unapologetically live true to your shared values.

If everyone did that, we can’t help but wonder just how persistent these massive global problems would continue to be.

Jake Shapka is the Coordinator of Brand & Culture integration at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre. He holds a degree in Communications Studies from the University of Calgary and is passionate about inspiring communities to come together to create a world where everyone feels a sense of purpose, connection, and belonging. You can find him on Twitter by following @jakeshapka.