8 January 2021

Rising to the challenge

At the end of a turbulent year, many of us were following the US elections with our hearts in our mouths, hoping that our friends across the pond would vote for the prospect of a more peaceful, tolerant, just and sustainable America. Joe Biden’s promise to re-engage in multilateral conversations, to address the economic downfall of the pandemic and to step up the fight against climate change was a welcome breath of fresh air in an otherwise dark and desperate year.

But as we stepped into 2021, the violent march on the Capitol in Washington served as a painful reminder of the fragility of democracy. Democracy provides for a system of equality, whereby all individuals are given the same opportunity to influence decisions that affect society. In turn, for democracy to function it relies on a complex set of principles, including equal access to the protection of individual human rights.

Equality, in this rapidly polarising world, is an increasingly scarce commodity. And indeed growing inequality has become an even more pressing issue in the COVID-19 crisis, thus becoming one of the biggest threats to political stability, peace, justice and the economy.  Last year shone an ugly light on the levels of inequality in Europe and around the world through a variety of lenses from demographic to financial to digital. Addressing inequalities and making sure we leave no-one behind contributes at a systemic level to preventing the polarisation we have seen in action in different parts of the world, including the US.

In this context and as we start this new year, we all agree it is time to bring hope, empathy, cultural understanding, and equality to our world. We need to build bridges, not walls; appreciate the diversity of opinion and beliefs, not trample them; to build a world that values and aspires to “philanthropos”: the love of humanity.

Closing the gap between those who have and those who have not in order to build a more equal future for all humanity is what philanthropy organisations strive to do on a daily basis. They tackle inequality in a diverse range of areas from health, to climate change, to social well-being, to fighting for global human rights, and much more. They build bridges, connect people and societies, foster cultural understanding and diversity. In doing so, they contribute to upholding the democratic values which are so fundamental to the thriving of our societies.

Our role at this critical time is to rise to these challenges no matter how tough they are.  Let’s build on last year’s responsiveness, agility, and cooperation and show what philanthropy is made of!

Photo by Gabriel Lamza on Unsplash