I have been asked to bring a talk about “Living For A Cause” so I’ve been putting together a speech basically inviting people to live for their cause.  What’s your cause?

For some of us it’s a no-brainer.  We find ourselves fascinated and motivated by the need to challenge the world problems of hunger, clean water deficiency, HIV-AIDS, education, child slavery, women, people-trafficking, ethnic injustice, economic imbalances, …I could keep going.  Others of us wonder about the basic idea of “Living for a Cause?”  We just don’t do it, or we think we don’t do it and wonder about all the fuss.

I think there is some understanding to be found when we think of it as a generational issue.    Let me explain.

When we are younger (and you figure out what that means for you) it’s easy to become part of the passion of working for a cause.  Young adults, college students, people in the learning years easily grasp the magnitude of world issues and have the energy to rise up to push back on them.  I remember in my high school years organizing a “walk out” from our high school because our neighbour from the south was doing nuclear testing on a piece of real estate too near the n/w corner of Canada.  The protest was hugely successful.  I know about 600 kids really enjoyed the opportunity to take an hour away from classes on a warm spring day.  Some of you may challenge the integrity of their commitment to the cause but for me and other students who led the event, we were deeply upset with the idea of nuclear testing and we were bent on doing something about it.

But then something happens in your life journey.  You find yourself entering a different stage and suddenly your life is occupied with a lot of other things that crowd out a social cause.  I refer to them as “marriage, a mortgage, and a minivan”.   It’s not that you don’t care, but there are a lot of other burning issues that consume the middle ground.  And for 20-30 years you find yourself working on the middle, not the edges.

But then, you hit a time in your life when hopefully your marital life is stable, the mortgage is NOT an issue, and hopefully you aren’t still hauling your mini van to events and occasions.  Now, once again, you have space in the middle to think of things that are more than just in the middle of your view finder.  You are open again to considering the larger issues of life.

So, I meet people now taking their end of work life years or their retirement years and teaching in a cross cultural setting, building houses for Habitat, getting involved in medical care for 3rd world situations, working for non-profit agencies, giving their time to the poor or the broken…why?   Because deep down inside of us, there is a willingness to be part of a “cause”.

Terry Fox was just 22 when he began his “Marathon of Hope”.  His goal was to run across Canada and raise $24 million dollars to fight cancer, one dollar for every Canadian citizen at that time (1980).   He died while pursuing his cause, just a month short of his 23rd birthday.  His action at that time raised about $1.5 million…but since then, in various “marathons of hope in memory of Terry Fox” just over $500 million has been raised in the fight.

Mother Teresa was 40 when she began her “Sisters of Charity”.  When she died 47 years later 610 Missions existed under her guidance helping the “poorest of the poor” find help, hope and life in their journey.  Time magazine described her as the “most influential woman of the 20th century”.

We all have a cause, it’s just a matter of timing when we engage on it.  What’s your cause?