A class of BYU students recently participated in a seven-part series called “Solving Global Problems at the Local Level.” Speakers included a state senator, the CEO of a major charitable foundation, a faith-based community affairs spokesperson, and a number of activists heavily invested in community improvement.
The deepest question raised during the series surfaced after students read Bonnie L. Oscarson’s 2017 General Conference address, “Needs Before Us,” which invites readers to tackle non-global issues. far from their home. In response, a student asked, “Can we effectively solve world problems from our homes? This simple question defined the tenor of these discussions with eminent speakers, and resonated with me as I examine the scope of global problems in the 21st century.
What takes the stakes even higher is that we need a generation of leaders – not just a handful of talent – to tackle issues as diverse as corruption, economic inequality, procurement. insufficient water, urban congestion and political instability. Part of the solution is recognizing that leadership is not the ability to speak the loudest, but an unyielding willingness to use one’s talents to bless as many people as possible.
Fortunately, the unique skills and attributes that will make young Utahns seize the opportunity are within the grasp of most and the best models around the home. The lives of world leaders confirm that the support of a strong family or mentor, intentional educational opportunities, skilled talents in any field, integrity and faith in God often distinguish effective leadership.
Family or supervised support. In her coming of age memoir “Lazy B,” former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor writes how her father had high expectations of his daughter in performing routine activities in the ranch, especially cooking for starving cowboys during the roundups. , but also by treating her as an equal in their conversations about her aspirations.
Intentional educational opportunities. No one exemplified it better than the parents of Condoleezza Rice, who, after moving to Tuscaloosa, Alabama from Birmingham in the late 1960s, encouraged her to attend lecture series and others. extracurricular learning opportunities – while in high school. Intentional educational experiences do not need to be elaborate or expensive, but require efforts beyond pushing children out of schools.
Talents trained. The litany of issues facing humanity is so diverse that young people of all backgrounds are able to contribute. It can be in the local community or on the other side of the world. A proven ability to perform a technical skill or professional service competently is within reach of most, especially with the encouragement of family members or a trusted mentor.
Integrity. Corruption ranks at the top of humanity’s collective inability to spread the benefits of a high quality of life among men, women and children. This is as true in the “first” world as it is in those most in need of development. Oddly enough, former US President Jimmy Carter has written on several occasions that his commitment to honesty grew out of a deep respect for his father and mother, who demonstrated integrity within their community of Plains, in Georgia. Although he faced his own political challenges and was never one to flee a moral storm, at home or beyond the shores of our nation, he tried to apply his private integrity in service. the most public.
Belief in God or a higher power. While belief in God does not preclude blessing the lives of others, it is a testament to our yearning for transcendence – an intuitive sense of a power beyond our own to deal with life’s problems, such as Jimmy Carter wrote in “Faith: A Journey for All. “ And, as Carter’s tumultuous presidency attests, that doesn’t always guarantee an orderly outcome; however, it generally aligns a leader’s behavior with a set of recognized ideals.
Ultimately, global leadership begins at home. It is within the grasp of most young Utahns and often begins with strong support from a family or a mentor, intentional educational opportunities, cultivated talent, integrity, and a belief in a higher power.
Evan Ward is Associate Professor of History at Brigham Young University, where he teaches courses in world history. His opinions are his.