Scene from the movie “City Slickers”
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
Mitch: No, what?
Curly: Holds up one finger) This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing.
Mitch: That’s great, but what’s the one thing?
Curly: (smiles) That’s what you have to find out.
In the 1991 movie starring Billy Crystal and Jack Palance, the grizzled cowhand advises the young city slicker to find his most important thing in life. I’ve been thinking about that recently as I look at the most important issues in the world right now. If asked, each of us would have our own list – climate change, terrorism/security; human trafficking; opioids; economic disparity; lack of water/sanitation/education for millions; refugees/migrant populations – and I may not have hit yours yet. But is there “just one thing”, just one overarching issue that we could all agree must be addressed before everything else?
I think there is – It is our inability to find respect, empathy and trust for the “others” of different races, religions, nationalities, lifestyles or ideologies, and to bridge those divisions. I know that sounds too naïve, trite and simplistic to be taken seriously, but I believe it is true. The only way we are ever going to address the big issues, whether at a global, national or local level, is first to build a sense of trust. Trust comes from understanding…which is the result of empathy…which is reached through curiosity about each other…which only occurs from a mutual desire to find common ground. That process is not naïve. It is not trite or simplistic. It is the hardest work we can ever do. And it is the most important step we can take if we are to make progress as a human family and sustain our world.
Up with People was formed in the 1960’s in the midst of another divided and troubled time in the world. The founding beliefs were:
- Young people can and will create positive change if empowered and supported
- Music is a powerful instrument for creating social change
- Through music, travel and social action we can and will build respect, understanding and find common ground with people unlike ourselves
Since then over 22,000 young adults and teens have shared the experience of traveling in a cast, living with host families, giving back to the communities they visit and learning the skills for global bridge building. As alumni they have continued working to address some of the most important issues in their families, work places, communities, nations and world. And today more young people see Up with People as their platform to learn about the world and find their paths to being leaders for positive change. Each of them has found her/his “one thing” that will help them live with the perspective and commitment to be global citizens. If you are a young person of university age, please consider being a member of a cast. If you are beyond cast age, please support today’s young global leaders through a scholarship gift for deserving students.
BTW, Mitch did discover his “one thing.” I recommend the movie.
What I’m feeling now,
I could do something
Open up my heart
All I have to give
I can bring hope and live for others
I’m not afraid to start
I can do something, right now
With what I’m feeling now
What I’m Feeling Now © Up with People