I’ve the privilege of leading a global movement, made up of more than 150 Member Organizations from more than 60 countries and hundreds of thousands of heart-driven people, who are dedicated to making their communities and societies better. Together we work towards creating a world where all human beings are free to live up to their fullest potential, and protected from harm caused by alcohol and other drugs. It’s a world of peace, democracy and justice, we work towards, where free and healthy citizens actively contribute in all levels of society.

Simply said, we care.

We care for children and their fundamental rights to grow up free from harm and our members work for creating environments that allow children to play light-heartedly, learn and grow together, and embrace diversity to become the best version of the person they choose to be.

We care for Human Rights and our members work for ensuring that all human beings are treated equally with dignity and respect.

We care for refugees and migrants and our members work to provide help, support, and shelter wherever and whenever possible. As a global movement we care for bringing people together and fostering a culture of global solidarity.

We care for health and well-being for all and our members work to promote environments, norms and lifestyle choices that reduce and prevent harmful substances and promote well-being, physically and mentally, individually and collectively.

We care for democracy and civic engagement in our communities. IOGT members work heart-driven to increase election turnout, to provide platforms and forums to meet and discuss with political leaders, and to open space for civil society to represent diverse views from the grass-roots. Also internally, we embrace debate and the beauty of a multitude of opinions and perspectives that inform who we are and what we do.

We care for sustainable development in its social, economic and environmental dimensions. Our members work to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment. We care because we believe that all human beings have a right to enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature. We care for peace because there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development. The IOGT movement is dedicated to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence.

And we care for togetherness and unity.

These are times when our political leaders work to divide us and separate us by spreading lies and fears and hatred about different groups of people, instead of looking for true solutions to real problems. These are troubling times, when opinions are taken for facts, when talking points have replaced dialogue, when shouting is more important than listening, when corporate interests drown out people’s needs, when ideology trumps reality, when respect has become weakness and when truth has become an afterthought.

In times like this, it can be hard to feel hope and to see where change should come from. I believe, the starting point for change is to resist giving up and retreating, and instead stand firm by saying:

I care. We care. Let’s go.

Also published on Medium.