When I reflect on the state of the world, as one often does, I see both vast despair and endless possibility. Billions of our fellow human beings languish in poverty- and disease-ridden societies while us in the West concern ourselves with the private lives of so-called celebrities and the rampant pursuit of material possessions. Even within our own societies our fellow men and women struggle to feed themselves and their families. Yet amongst all this despair there exists an endless stream of possibility. Technology and global economic co-operation is lifting millions out of poverty each and every day. The internet provides a foundation for anyone with a computer and an ounce of creativity and entrepreneurship to create almost anything.
Knowing what we know about the state of the world, it is those with the strongest constitutions who fail to do anything to seek meaningful and lasting change. The problems that people in this world face are so great that it should be obvious that those of us who are in a position to dedicate our lives to meaningful and lasting change, should. How can you witness large-scale starvation, large-scale warfare, and large-scale human rights abuses and not feel compelled to do something about it? Only those with a strong will can overcome the temptation to assist those in need.
That is why I ask what your mission in life is. The awesome person is not the one sitting in a cubicle stuck in a job they hate, or the one travelling the world and giving nothing back, or the one sitting around preaching about the evils of whichever political regime they do not support. The awesome person is the one who dedicates their life to a higher cause – the one who works tirelessly to improve the lives of others – the person whose life has a mission. Having a mission brings purpose to your life, it drives you when you wake up in the morning and it provides the inspiration and motivation to live a meaningful life.
I consider myself one of the fortunate one to find their mission early in life. In reality, I was born into it. As a Maori (the name given to the collective indigenous peoples of New Zealand), I grew up with the stories of the atrocities perpetrated by the British colonisers in the 1800s and 1900s. Land confiscated by the stroke of a pen, 40 years of warfare, and widespread discrimination resulted in a race which finds itself at the wrong end of every social and economic indicator. Knowing what I know about the history of the invasion and colonisation of New Zealand, finding my mission in life was easy.
I now work as a lawyer representing Maori in their claims that the respective governments of New Zealand breached the agreements and undertakings they made with, and to, Maori in the 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi). It is a job which allows me to use my skills and knowledge as a lawyer to give a voice to those who cannot effectively present their case. This is not to say that they do not understand the core nature of the issues involved. To the contrary. The clients I work with have experienced decades of discrimination and injustice as a result of Government action and are very vocal in expressing this.
Assisting Maori voice their grievances is an incredibly rewarding job. It does come with the inevitable frustration that arises when discussing colonial actions and attitudes towards Maori (including that we are lazy and as a result do not deserve to keep our land), but flowing from that is a sense that I am contributing towards a more inclusive, and peaceful society through the resolution of historical grievances arising from Government action.
Finding Your Mission
Knowing what you know about the world, how can you sit there and do nothing about it? Are you strong enough that you can turn your mind from all the suffering that exists in societies at home and abroad? If you want to live a meaningful live, if you want to be awesome, then get out there and find your mission in life. Let it guide every decision you make. Individuals such as Florence Nightingale, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Princess Diana dedicated their lives to a higher cause. Their passion and commitment brought about meaningful and lasting change. Thousands of individuals throughout the world are bringing the same passion and commitment into their communities. If you are not one of them, then why not? The way I see it, if you have the ability then there is no excuse.