#TangibleHope is…giving to others, without expecting anything in return.

“What gives you #TangibleHope in the world today? How do your values and/or belief systems come into conversation with this #TangibleHope?

Spencer Sekulin, a student in the medical field:

#TangibleHope is…giving to others, without expecting anything in return.

Through the regular undulations of my existence, I have had the pleasure and the blessing of having volunteering be one of the things that remains certain, a complete given, amidst all of the incertitude and changes in the tempestuous anchorage we call life. It has given me a great deal of hope — that extraordinary trust we place in things beyond ourselves — in the world today, and that is no small thing in this certifiably pessimistic world. In the context of the faiths of humanity, and my own personal beliefs and values, it is a tangible hope in that brings us together regardless of who we are. Its unity of purpose, its immediate impact, and its subsequent reverberations, show the height of human cooperation.

Hope, to me, is seeing people from all walks of life, all creeds, all faiths, all ethnicities … choosing to give rather than to receive.

Thus, hope, to me, is seeing people from all walks of life, all creeds, all faiths, all ethnicities—almost every conceivable difference—working together and sacrificing their time—the most precious thing they have—to causes that help those in need, choosing to give rather than to receive. It is a true manifestation of a word that so few understand anymore. It may seem simple, and it is, but in its simplicity it has reaped extraordinary results, and shows that the measure of changing the world need not be so galactic.

Regardless of whether one believes in the Butterfly Effect, a term coined by Edward Lorenz, the notion itself is worth extending to our own lives, because if the movement of a butterfly’s wings can change the very nature of a hurricane, how much more can a unique, compassionate, and infinite human being shape the future through small acts on a consistent basis? Significantly, to say the least. This action is compounded, and there’s an urban legend that Albert Einstein once said, “compounding interest is the most powerful force in the universe.” Whether he really did say that is beside the point. If that can be applied to our manufactured notion of wealth, how much more can it apply to our lives, through consistent, disciplined action towards the future? I believe that one of the things that links people together the most, in spite of all boundaries, is the compassionate act of charity.

It may seem simple, and it is, but in its simplicity it has reaped extraordinary results, and shows that the measure of changing the world need not be so galactic.

I and many others find #TangibleHope to be that often unnoticed, regular commitment of time. Whether it is in a hospital, an old age home, or a shelter, it is a builder of trust in the future of humanity—of confidence in our ability to do right.


Spencer Sekulin is a student in Newmarket, Ontario, pursuing an education in the medical field. He has volunteered extensively in the healthcare and charity sectors and is interested in furthering his impact on both his local community and the world as a whole. He is also a writer, an incurable creative, and a hopeless sucker for cats.

 

Every month, the #TangibleHope Diaries series features responses from North American grassroots peacebuilders on what gives them tangible hope in the world today! Learn more here.

URI represented at White House interfaith gathering

Members of United Religions Initiative joined hundreds of participants last week for the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge gathering at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama initiated the challenge in 2011 when he sent a letter to college and university presidents calling for interfaith and community service programming. Today, more than 400 institutions embrace his call to interfaith service.

The yearly gathering is a time for students, staff, and like-minded organizations to build connections with one another and hear from members of the Obama administration. This year, plenary speakers included the First Lady’s Chief of Staff, Tina Tchen; Director of the Peace Corps, Carrie Hessler-Radelet; Secretary of the Department of Education, John King; and representatives from the U.S. Department of State and both the White House and Department of Education Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet in conversation with the First Lady’s Chief of Staff Tina Tchen .

URI members from four countries and three states attended the gathering, including URI North America Regional Coordinator, Sari Heidenreich. Regional Coordinator for URI in the Latin America and the Carribean, Enoe Texier and Fr. James Channa, Regional Coordinator for URI in Pakistan were invited as special international guests by the Obama administration. Representatives from several URI Cooperation Circles also attended, including Sun Devils Are Better Together (Arizona), Nashville Cooperation Circle @ Scarritt Bennett Center (Tennessee),  S.A.R.A.H. (California) and Coexister (France).

Breakout sessions topics ranged from how to increase media coverage of interfaith work to the challenges of creating safe spaces for people with a wide range of identities.

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URI members from France, Venezuela, USA and Pakistan meet at the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge gathering in Washington, D.C.

“It was an honor to represent the United Religions Initiative network at such a diverse gathering,” Heidenreich said. “I always carry with me and share the work URI members are doing to bring interfaith collaboration and harmony to the world. This work and these people give me Tangible Hope that we are making progress towards a more peaceful and just world.”