A Scottish town planner may have been the first person to use the concept, if not the exact words, back in the early 1900s: "Think globally, act locally." Regardless of its origins or history, it needs to be an idea practiced by every person wanting to participate in Memphis' share of the global economy.
As workers, investors, inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, business people or community members, we are part and parcel of a global economy, and it is not waiting for any of us.
Thomas Friedman, in his 2005 bestseller, "The World is Flat," tells this fable to illustrate the urgency of the matter:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.
I first heard this tale during commencement exercises at my alma mater as part of the graduation address. The speaker's point was clear: globalization has made our world much more competitive, and technology has made it appear much smaller. People all over the world are looking for new ideas and innovative solutions to problems old and new.
For example, a group of students at Rice University in Texas are working with a Brazilian oil company on an idea the students developed as a class project. They are building "islands" for oil workers and their families to live on while laboring offshore on oil rigs.
Just this past Sunday (Feb. 23rd), I shared worship with a fascinating group of people as we celebrated African American History Month by lifting up the achievements of people making our world a better place. One woman headed a local foundation that has led the way in revitalizing a historic community institution and the neighborhood surrounding it, drawing tourists from all over the world.
Another young couple created a new brand of gourmet dog food and animal treats, which is now being sold in a national pet store chain. A dynamic young man combined his love of photography and sports and went from sports writer to editor of a suburban newspaper. Each day, each person hit the ground running, making our world a better place by improving themselves.
My message to you is "think globally." While we must certainly be responsible for this world in which we live and its resources, there are no limits on potential and possibility when it comes to solving the problems that face us all over the world.
"Act locally." Start right where you are by honing skills and focusing on what interests you and how it can benefit your community.
(If you need assistance on how to properly dress to secure employment, contact Kairos Services at www.kairosmemphis.org or 901- 795-2510.)