God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Everyone wants to make a difference. But it so often seems impossible. So much of the world appears intractably broken. There are wars you cannot stop, diseases you cannot cure, wrongs you cannot avert, pain you cannot relieve, people you cannot persuade, problems fueled by sheer overwhelming inertia. And it is easy, faced with a world broken in a million, million ways, to despair.
But – if you’re reading this, there is probably something in the world you can change. Something big.
You have a secret power that you can start using immediately.
You can save someone.
And you can do it yourself.
You can do it right now.
And you won’t be alone.
You’ll be joining a legion of people who have also uncovered this power hidden in plain sight, pooling their resources in a global effort to defy the natural order and protect their fellow humans.
This power goes by many names: tithing, donation, charity. It can transcend space, spreading your will to protect to where it’s needed most, even if it’s thousands of miles away. It can be fueled by any profession. Waiting tables, creating art, constructing buildings, programing, driving, performing surgery, practicing law, plumbing, cleaning, performing – all of it can be converted into protection, into hope, into life by the alchemical process of donating money.
Between now and January 10th, hundreds of people are going to take the Giving What We Can Pledge: 10% of their future earnings to save, protect, defend, rescue those who need it. To enable them to live their lives and follow their dreams and overcome the million million evils of this world. And, if you so choose, you can join them. You can fight back against everything that is broken in the world.
I know that not everyone can do this. I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life. But if you’ve been fortunate too, you can start spreading that fortune to others. I took the pledge last year and gave 10% of my pre-tax income in 2014. This year, I gave 17%. And most of the time, I didn’t think about it. I woke up, I went to work, I struggled with frustrations, I talked to friends, I learned, I played, I made mistakes, I loved, I lost – I lived my life. But always, in the background, that pipeline, and the comfort of knowing that however broken the world was, there are people working on making it better, and I’m a part of that global effort. In 2016, I’m aiming for 20%.
According to Givewell, approximately every $3000 donated to the Against Malaria Foundation saves another human life. An. Entire. Human. Life. Decades of living, hoping, dreaming, friendships, love, learning, beauty, art, mistakes, laughter, tears – an entire life, instead of the sorrow and emptiness of a life cut short. If you can donate that much or more a year, then you can save someone. Every. Single. Year.
Maybe this isn’t something you can do right now. And that’s okay. But – if you can, and it you want to – then you can change the world right now. You can choose to live in a world where one fewer person dies for want of a bednet. You can tip the scales just a little bit more in humanity’s favor.
You don’t need to wait.
You don’t need to ask for permission.
You can fight back against everything that is broken and wrong in this world, right now, and protect that which would have otherwise have been lost.
You can make a New Year’s Resolution whose effects will be felt across the globe for decades to come.
You can change the world.
You are filled with determination.