What is Social Good?

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Farah Naz Ahmad is a 2014 UNA-USA Social Good Summit Blogger Fellow. View this post on her blog. 

I’ve been shaken and awakened, as flashes of light flooded into my eyes today, and booming voices bursted through my eardrums. As a 2014 Social Good Summit Blogger Fellow for the United Nations Association, I had an amazing opportunity to play a part in United Nations history this week!  You see, this week the United Nations is host to the General Assembly, the Climate Summit, and more. These events comprise a larger trend- to coerce conversation and raise a response on social reform issues that require humanity’s attention. The 2014 Social Good Summitkicked off the movement, that I am completely confident sure will continue throughout the coming year.

What is ‘Social Good?’ To me, social good is the application of our inherent cores and values- those that are not influenced by external factors, such as a monetary greed and gain. I believe that in a corporate model, social good is a responsibility held by individuals or entire enterprises.  Social good in the business world, through our everyday careers, would simply make the world a much better place to live and thrive in. How can we achieve this? As Musician Pharrell Williams viral video ‘Happy’ indicates, setting a good example entails “scaling back on judgment and placing more emphasis on intention.” I firmly believe successfully transferring such ‘morality’ -without viewing the financial gain as a preliminary goal, but as a result- can propel social good forward.

The Social Good Summit was about highlighting the achievements of successful key players in social reform. My personal faith in humanity, in a seemingly money-hungry corporate world, was quite literally restored after today! The summit was also about finding common ground, to share solutions. As Pharrell concluded, “We have to find a connective tissue if we are going to be one body.” The Social Good Summit was the perfect forum for us to do so, to discuss our differences on one platform and understand each other’s point of view for the greater common good.

There was a tremendous display of ‘social good’ on Sunday, September 21st. It manifested itself in the powerful voice of leaders and activists, and in the wide range of social corporate responsibility policies that were presented.

Social Good was transparent in the mindsets of several speakers. Humanitarian and Mozambican leader Graca Machel swept me away with her thoughts. She took a clear stance on women’s rights, explaining that this issue has sadly taken a second stage in worldly affairs, and that it is necessary for critics to look at the “value ofa girl.” Speaking on poverty, Graca urged us to revisit what ‘no one left behind’ truly means and to really map out the areas in need of help, down to the micro-level of community. Perhaps Graca’s most profound attitude in human mindset was that of our ability to create tradition. “Traditions are manmade. We need to dismantle this manmade device.” Such a subjective statement should be left to your own interpretation. Dr. Donald Hopkins, Director of Health Programs at The Carter Center also provided inspiring insight- “We must ourselves not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good [in making progress].” In stating so, Hopkins pushes us to achieve a measure far beyond what our imagination believes is possible.

Social Good was highly visible through action, in business model. Director and Producer Lekha Singh, stated “In the darkest moments you see the most light.” Through her film, ‘Beyond Right and Wrong,’ she utilizes visual media to capture the ‘human’ in all of us by creating a connection we can all relate to. She taps into the strings of our heart to convey a message about social justice through the power of storytelling. Academic and University Administrator, Michael Roth’s course “How to Change The World” shows us social good through activism. He questions, how can we, on the basis of education, learn to change the world? “We go to college to set our hearts aflame. When you learn, you learn how to make the world alive.” In other words, we gain an education not simply to consume information, but to understand why we should care about what matters most.

So I simply ask of my peers, can we each take our college degrees and make a vow to commit to some form of social good? It can be related to our fields of study, or it can simply be a cause that sparks our passion. After all, as the summit proves, a little social good can go a very long way!

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