Huffpost Impact
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Shaun King Headshot

Do It Alone, Person to Person

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

"Do not wait for leaders; Do it alone. Person to person." - Mother Teresa

What are we waiting for? I doubt even one person reading this article truly believes that a politician in the United States, or anywhere around the world for that matter, is going to make the dirty water of the world clean or end human trafficking. And while we stay in a perpetual "state of wait" those problems worsen. I believe Mother Teresa was right. It's time for us to stop waiting and start being the change -- person to person.

Together, you and I could solve or radically improve doggone near every humanitarian problem in the world. I'm sure of it. Forget what you've heard -- no crisis is too big, no system is too corrupt, no code is too hard for us to crack. I say this not as a green, wet-behind-the-ears guy that sits high. I've seen and felt the pain of the very worst circumstances our world has to offer. I've been low.

I've counseled lifers in prison. I've provided aid in the tent cities of post-earthquake Haiti. I've comforted parentless two-year-old AIDS orphans roaming the streets alone in the slums of South Africa. I've been to the places where the problems are supposed to be impossible to solve and maybe it's my American arrogance that I keep hearing we lead the world in, but each time I've seen the problems that we all seem to be waiting on the leaders to solve, and they were bad, yes, but they also looked and felt much more solvable than I ever expected. Every single one of them!

I want to submit to you that the size and scope of the worst humanitarian struggles in the world is not the real problem for us in 2012 and beyond. The real problem is us! We are too unorganized, too divided, and frankly too petty to tackle substantive problems as a unified team when this is just what is needed to make a targeted difference in the world.

Could you imagine if millions of us banded together, pushed up our sleeves, and shared resources to directly solve real problems facing real people one issue at a time? Nothing would be outside of our grasp! The revolutions of the world fueled by social media in 2011 have proven this to me more than ever.

We could do this right now, but we're too divided! Well-meaning people, in isolated cultural bubbles, rarely band together with people outside of their bubble, to solve a problem that has nothing to do with the bubble itself. Consequently, it's a rare sight to see, for instance, a gay activist and an evangelical Christian leader taking a stand together against human trafficking -- even though leaders from both bubbles want to see modern day slavery end. In essence, the gay activist and the evangelical Christian choose their bubble over a cause that is in desperate need of time, attention, and resources from people in every bubble that exists.

However, I believe that millions of people (maybe billions!) all around the world are willing to put aside their differences and come together to tackle the issues that we keep waiting on the leaders to solve. At no point in the history of the world has it been as possible as it is right now, because of social media and the power of so many net/tech tools that exist, to bring women, men, girls, and boys together from every background imaginable to leapfrog past the leadership waiting game and actually be the change ourselves!

This is why we are launching HopeMob this March -- to unite generous strangers together into a laser-focused community that is determined to see real change happen in our lifetime. Before we've launched, we've already had thousands of people from over 40 states & 20 countries on 6 continents sign up to serve as volunteers for this movement. We've had what may be the most successful KickStarter campaign ever hosted by a non-profit. This idea of one mega community of strangers coming together to focus on one story or one person at a time, with a simple goal or solution, and then mobbing that need with hope until our goal is met is resonating with people that normally touch each other with a 10 foot pole!

Personally I decided to launch HopeMob so that I could better care for two groups of people that come to me almost daily for advice or support. The first group of people tug on my heart and are men, women, and families with desperate needs that just don't fit in anywhere else. They've already tried every outlet and agency they know and nothing is working. Their need has fallen through the cracks and by the time they reach out to me, they often don't know whom else to turn to. They're a day away from being homeless, a few bucks short of having their water cut off, a small deposit away from being able to start college.

The second group of people are my friends that contact me asking how they can give some object (like cars or clothes), some money, or some time away in a super meaningful way. They'd love to know that whatever they chose to give away was going to go directly to a person in need and they know that I am always in close contact with these people. They've lost a bit of confidence in mega charities and just want to leapfrog past bureaucracy to meet a need directly.

For years now, I've paired these two groups of people together informally so that a person with a car to give away can give it to a single mom that needs it for her new job or so that a person with extra income to spare can use it to make sure a deserving student starts school. HopeMob is all about uniting generous strangers online to bring about real change offline!

(Learn more about the HopeMob KickStarter campaign here and sign up to become a volunteer here.