ODFL is working for a better world. But that work is not random, or founded only on hope. It is tangible, structured, and systematic. It is revealed in three related levels of “meaning” that inform everything we do. Those are:
- What is outside of us
- What is inside of us
- What is between us
The first meaning is what happens outside of ourselves as a result of our work. It’s about building classrooms, medical clinics, latrines, and other small-scale infrastructure projects in the developing world.
These projects dramatically improve life chances for some of the poorest people in the world. They are a tangible expression of our highest purpose and our most noble pursuit: a single humanity working to reduce human suffering.
If only a part of this meaning is ever realized, the world will be a better place. And, in fact, it already is.
But there is another, deeper level of “meaning,” one that goes on inside of ourselves. It is to transform a generation — millions — of people from being isolated, selfish, competitive, and impotent, to being connected, compassionate, cooperative, and competent.
The tangibility and the stunning impact of our projects is what delivers these transformations. People who participate in ODFL inevitably say, “This is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.” Even if they’ve only donated a dollar, the elation and the empowerment is real.
If we can cultivate these character traits in millions of people, by showing them tangible proof of the joy and efficacy in altruism, we will create a different world, because people who are connected, compassionate, cooperative, and competent act differently than do those who are not.
The last “meaning” of ODFL is what happens, not outside of us, or inside of us, but between us. It is about turning upside down the way culture is created on the planet.
For 500 years, since Gutenberg, we’ve lived as recipients of culture, passive consumers at the bottom end of a one-way pipe. Yet soon, every person alive will be able to create culture and share it with everyone else.
Instead of being passive recipients of culture, we become its creators. Instead of simply downloading and reacting, we can upload and initiate. The difference is profound, epochal. But connections and tools are still only mechanisms. They are like the box of a television.
What we need is the content — like the programming of television — that reflects a different set of common values. How do we model the values of a single humanity working to reduce human suffering? How do “bigger people” really act? Instead of “me,” “us”. Instead of predation, stewardship. Instead of titillation, substance.
If we give people the means to embody those values, to enact them as an intentional part of their lives, they will grow organically, as an integral part of the emerging global culture.
That culture will come to reflect our highest ideals rather than our deepest fears. It will look like the world we’ve always longed for but scarcely dared to believe was possible.
It is possible. But only if we act now, before the values of the new global culture are fixed.
What is outside of us: noble projects.
What is inside of us: bigger people.
What is between us: a transformed global culture.
All of these meanings are there — and are working today — for those with the daring to believe in a better world, and the courage to act to bring it about. YOU are one of those people. If you want this kind of world, then join us. The world needs you.
Thank you for your participation in this vision.