Memorial Day, although a domestic U.S. holiday, calls to my mind a universal theme: the honor and reverence due to the men and women who have fought and died for a cause bigger than themselves. Though our focus at Opportunity International is most often on international issues such as chronic poverty; empowerment of women and the disenfranchised; and a sustainable solution to economic instability; this holiday, in honoring the lives of fallen Americans, cuts to the heart of something we should never forget. These individuals, and their families and loved ones, have made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice for something larger than themselves.
True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. –Arthur Ashe
I can’t help but be deeply moved by these soldiers’ self-sacrifice. So on this day, I encourage you, whatever your cause–whether it’s an issue at home or abroad about which you’re passionate–strive to dedicate your whole self to it. For Opportunity, that cause is global poverty, ending disempowerment and disenfranchisement of people who lack opportunities to improve their own lives, and giving women the tools to provide for their families. It’s a large, even overwhelming cause at times, but together, we’re confident we can accomplish it. And when greater economic stability reigns, and the most vulnerable people have a voice and opportunities, peace is more likely to prevail. In the words of Lt. General Claudia Kennedy, the first female three-star general and a member of Opportunity’s Board of Advisors, “We are all on the same boat.” It’s up to us to “increase global stability and alleviate poverty. The payoff is not only prosperity, but peace.” So whether it’s global poverty or another cause bigger than yourself, give yourself over to it and it can have far-reaching effects. Have a happy Memorial Day holiday.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. –Margaret Mead