I look upon reality as a verb. That's not to say that the hard, cold facts of this world don't leave very real footprints. There's no denying the horror of a child dying every 20 seconds of a vaccine-preventable disease or the impact to the one in seven girls in the developing world are married off before the age of 15. Yet, it is also true that for each year that a girl can stay in school, her earning potential goes up by 10-20 percent, and that she'll reinvest 90 percent of what she earns back into her family and community. But all these statistics -- the positive and the negative -- tend to rattle in the brain until we can actively pin them down with dreams of our own.
Yes, it's often in the more ethereal realm of the imagination that raw data are given a memorable face, a moving story, a hope for something better, and a definitive role for others to play. We human beings truly do have the power to mold and reshape reality. A exciting new initiative, the Global Good Challenge, is helping us to do just that on a global level. Pushing the PLAY button is key to how it works.
In collaboration with some of the sharpest technology visionaries and the most desirable global brands and personalities, the United Nations Foundation is making it possible for all of us to reset the rules on the world's most daunting threats. Players are asked to take simple steps like sharing a tweet or watching a video, and in so doing, they engage with campaigns around girls' empowerment, malaria eradication, and more. Each step accrues more points, bettering a player's chance to win unique, thrilling prizes like backstage passes to a Lady Gaga or Stevie Wonder concerts, a VIP experience with the Target NASCAR team, or a slot as guest racer with the Oracle Team USA America's Cup captain and crew.
After clicking my way through several contests, I can happily attest that the Global Good Challenge is a cool way to learn and a fun way to take social action. Certainly, for the lucky prize winners, the experience will be doubly rewarding. But, in all honesty, a plussed-up sense of winning pervades regardless. Helping an organization that is doing so much to better the world just by paying attention and spreading the word, is an excellent way to feel like a winner all day long. How many things do that? Why wouldn't you want to feel that good over and over again?! Doing good and feeling good -- together at last!
The great poet William Wordsworth suggested that "we have no knowledge, that is, no general principles drawn from the contemplation of particular facts," but rather that our insights come from a "grand elementary principle of pleasure." It is through the things that bring us joy that we begin to understand, respond to, and order our lives and the lives of those around us. Think about hearing music from a place you've never been in a language that you don't know. It's very likely you'll still be swaying to the beat and feeling a great deal of gratitude and simpatico with the artists that brought you that moment of pleasure. There's nothing wrong with philanthropy feeling like a bossa nova. If play is the way to move mountains in the valley of extreme poverty, then please, let's all start clicking to the beat and turning up the volume.