Taking Inspiration From Yesterday

Invariably at this time of year as we catch-up with family and friends, conversation at some point focuses on the year just passed and various prognostications for the one ahead. Not sure about your circle, but those around me seemed to feel 2015 was a pretty lousy year.

I must admit, they appear to have a case when you consider the terrorist attacks around the world, including our own backyard; the wave of humanity attempting to escape Syria and over war zones; a sluggish economy with a burgeoning deficit; yet another Prime Minister asking us to trust them; and seemingly more erratic weather systems – I could go on.

Listening to all this gloom and doom one would think the world is going backwards in a handcart. And, unfortunately, the not for profit sector is seen by some as being a contributor to the current sorry state of affairs. We a constantly bombarded by articles and commentaries from so called experts that eagerly list the sector’s shortcomings. Each failing then being followed by a call to adopt a bright new approach that will solve all the sector’s problems.

Honestly, in the midst of this depressing talk, I was thinking of throwing in the towel and wandering off into the bush. And I may have just done that had I not come across an article from Charles Kenny in The Atlantic .

Charles has been trawling through data, mainly from UN sources, that makes you stop in your tracks. The article is well worth reading when you have the time but the main conclusion to be drawn from the facts provided is that…

“2015 was the best year in history for the average human being to be alive”.

To support his claim Kenny cites a host of data that actually paints a picture of meaningful progress being made by a range of Causes which has resulted in decreasing rates of child mortality to the expansion of civil and political rights to eradication of a number of diseases.

Hold the presses! Despite what we are being told, as a planet we are making real headway on  a whole range of social issues.

Now, of course, this brighter than expected picture doesn’t mean we should relax in our efforts to achieve positive social change – so many battles are yet to be won. And creativity and innovation will continue to be a key to future progress. By the same token, however,  it would we equally fallacious to ignore what has worked in the past and blindly replace it with a shiny new, and probably untested, model. 

So as our 2016 journey begins we could do well by heeding the advice of Phil Buchanan who implores the sector to….

…learn — and take inspiration — from that progress as we seek to change today and tomorrow. It is the progress we have made that should give us hope that, indeed, this year can be better than the last.

I am now looking at 2016 with renewed optimism, what about you?

By Chris Gandy – Founder of Cause & Effective




About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

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