“The Time Is Always Right To Do What Is Right” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.
Over half a century ago, Dr Martin Luther. King Jnr addressed the American Psychological Association (APA) at its annual convention, calling on psychologists to use their research to help a society “poisoned to its soul by racism.” The mental health of our nation, African continent and the entire globe has been negatively affected due to the impact racism has had on our world.
Decades later, during the pandemic, a formal apology was issued by the American Psychological Association(APA) for promoting, perpetuating and failing to challenge racism and discrimination towards communities of colour and for contributing to systemic inequalities. This was in a bid to keep with Dr. King’s admonishment that, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
Apologies must be accompanied by action, however. “Thus, APA began an internal work which is geared into launching a comprehensive audit of its equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives focused on race and ethnicity, as well as other antiracism-related activities.”
Seeing this as a member of the “American Psychological Association (APA)” warmed my heart as an African who lives in Africa’s rainbow nation, South Africa, and also, as founder, African Institute of Mind (AIM) that has met with two chairs of APA about our Diversity, Inclusion, Disability and Psychology For Africa project.
As Dr Martin Luther King Jnr said in 1967; “We must never adjust ourselves to racial discrimination and racial segregation. We must never adjust ourselves to religious bigotry. We must never adjust ourselves to economic conditions that take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.”
When he addressed my professional association on the podium in Washington D.C., he was only 38 years old and already a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Contribution on purpose everyday you, me breathe oxygen into our lungs signing the day with our signature of value enabling earth urgently, because today is what we have, tomorrow we do not know what it holds.
Shopping at airports, King’s co-founder, Charles “Chuck” Feeney, who amassed billions with Robert Miller in 1960, eventually pioneered the idea of Giving; while living-spending most of your fortune on big, hands-on charity bets, instead of funding a foundation upon death.
As a philanthropist, he says, since you can’t take it with you, why not give it all away, you have control of where it goes and see the results with your own eyes? For some four decades, Charles Feeney has donated more that $8 billion to charities, universities and foundations worldwide, through his foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies.
One of those who taught me Positive Psychology got funding for research from him. How about taking a moment to pause and think. This African coaching psychologist that’s impacted over one hundred thousand leaders across Africa, first Nigerian citizen to climb Kilimanjaro with the Nigerian flag in a bid to draw attention to mental health, got ignited by a professor whose research was funded by someone I may never meet; no wonder he was called ‘James Bond of Philanthropy.’
Yes, he also left something for his wife’s retirement too, and has given away 375,000% more money than his current net worth; which he has done anonymously.
As I begin to wrap up this article, here’s my reflective question for you: What would it mean for you to give while you are still alive?
Everyday you have is a gift that’s best nourished through contribution to others. Small acts are a good place to start. Truth is, sometimes we lose sight of what we can offer others. Science has shown it improves wellbeing and also activates certain parts of the brain.
It also influences your perception of yourself and the world. Whether large, like the ‘James Bond of Philanthropy’ or small, like buying food for a hungry person.
Research has found that participation in voluntary services is significantly predictive of better mental and physical health, life satisfaction, self-esteem, happiness, lower depressive symptoms, psychological distress, and mortality and functional inability. Your brain gets stimulated through your giving and co-operating with others, which gives you, me, us a sense of purpose and feelings of self-worth.
Here’s a challenge: commit to gifting your time to others, a non-profit in a constructive way, and watch how the world within you (your inner landscape) will lead to strengthening your relationships and also aids building new ones.
To Your Rise and Humanity’s Flourishing!