Making the world a better place through empowering youth to become future leaders is at the core of what both Kiwanis International and Up with People do. So it’s a no-brainer that our organizations would form a close partnership.
Up with People has been entertaining audiences around the world for more than 50 years, yet a recent performance with Andrea Bocelli will go down as one of the more memorable evenings in our history. Bocelli’s wife personally invited Up with People to perform at “Teatro del Silenzio,” his annual charity music festival at an outdoor amphitheater near his hometown in Italy.
It was such a great display of what makes Up with People so special. A select cast of alumni gathered for a week of rehearsal in the US, jumped on a plane to Italy to perform in front of 15,000 people in 104-degree heat — and loved every minute of it. Performing with the Maestro in support of his world charity made it even more amazing!
Recent tragic events in Charlottesville, Barcelona and Turku once again remind us that our world today is more divided, more polarized and less civil than at any time since the 1960’s. Increasingly, many of us seem to define ourselves by what we are against and whom we disagree with. We tend to associate with those who are like “us” and who share our disdain for those “others.” We agree that “they” are not just wrong about ideas or issues…they are the enemy deserving of being personally demeaned and insulted.
In its ultimate form this kind of bigoted and dehumanizing thinking has led some to justify the worst kind of violence, whether that was among the factions in Syria, at a market in Paris, the airport in Brussels, a nightclub in Orlando, a church in Charleston, a baseball field in Washington or these most recent events.