Over 26,000 volunteers from 105 countries will be greeted by a simple message when they come home to Chicago to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Oak Brook-based Lions International this month: “Be kind.” Many of them will roll up their sleeves and do good work in Chicago’s neighborhoods—it’s what Lions do.
To encourage others to be kind, ads around the city on 40 L trains, and numerous bus shelters in high-traffic areas along the Magnificent Mile and Millennium Park, and messaging at O’hare International Airport and in CTA stations such as the Midway and McCormick Place can be seen now, each echoing what Lions clubs have been saying for a century, “kindness matters.”
With messages such as “Things are looking up because of kindness,” or “Kindness matters: At home in Chicago and around the world,” the ads were designed to inspire random acts of kindness, which is what Lions International’s 1.4 million volunteers in 200 countries are known for.
“In today’s world it’s too easy to forget the power of doing good. We are constantly bombarded with reminders of what divides us, but doing something nice for someone, even if it’s insignificant, can be a powerful way to unite people,” says Lions International President Chancellor Bob Corlew. “Kindness cuts across all languages and cultures, which is why Lions have focused on it for 100 years starting here in Chicago and expanding our work across the globe.”
With the goal to start a movement in Chicago, where Lions was founded in June 1917, local Lions will distribute Kindness Matters bracelets as they urge Chicagoans to do something nice for someone to spread kindness around the city during their convention later this month. Project Kindness will involve teams of volunteers throughout the city doing nice things for people with a message to “pass it on.” A list of 100 easy ideas for being nice is avail on their web site.
“It can be as simple as letting the person behind you move ahead of you in line, giving up your seat on the L or holding the door open,” Corlew added. “Kindness is contagious. If someone does something nice for you, you want to spread that feeling. Giving can be better than receiving.”
Founded in Chicago in 1917 and growing into the world’s largest volunteer organization, LCI empowers its 1.4 million members in over 47,000 clubs with the motto “We Serve” and projects ranging from feeding the hungry to administering free health screenings or selling Christmas trees in the community and using proceeds to fight river blindness in Africa.
“Lions have helped shape volunteerism over the past century and all the tools available to us today to help make volunteering easier. Now we want to inspire others to pay it forward, and experience the feeling of doing good,” Corlew continued.
The organization marks its centennial anniversary June 30 – July 4, with one of the most internationally diverse conventions ever to come to Chicago. Hundreds of volunteers will roll up their sleeves and do good work as part of several service projects around the city June 30 – July 3.
State Street Parade of Nations – Photo Opportunity – Saturday July 1
Parade featuring an estimated 26,000 Lions from 105 countries, many in native dress, along with floats and 25 marching bands, beginning at 9 a.m. Sat, July 1. Starting at State and Wacker and ending at State and Van Buren, Lions will pass out kindness bracelets encouraging others to do something nice that day.
NBC’s Little Big Shots star Gavin Stevens Performs – Sunday July 2
Seven-year-old Gavin Stevens suffers from a rare disease that has left him almost completely blind, Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA). LGA has not stopped Gavin from some big-time performances however, and after singing the National Anthem at an L.A. Kings hockey game, he was asked to perform on Steve Harvey’s TV show, “Little Big Shots”. He will perform at the Lions International opening plenary in honor of Lions work to help the blind, a plight that began 100 years ago with Helen Keller calling on Lions to become the “knights of the blind.”
Since its early days, Chicago has inspired its residents to roll up their sleeves and extend a helping hand to those in need. A wide circle of civic, service and educational organizations were founded in Chicago, such as Jane Addams’ Hull House, Lions and Rotary International, and over the last 150 years volunteers have flocked to join thriving chapters of such groups as the YMCA, the Hibernians and many other religious, women’s and business clubs and neighborhood associations. LCI, the group that was to become the world’s largest service organization, was formed in this culture in June 1917—the fulfillment of a dream of business leader Melvin Jones to bring his peers’ talents and resources together to make positive change in their communities.
Lions International will announce their new signature health cause, which their 1.4 million volunteers worldwide will focus on in their next century of service. Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.4 million members in approximately 46,000 clubs in 200 countries and geographic areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired, championed youth initiatives and strengthened communities through hands- on service and humanitarian projects.
There is one addiction, however, that may be more difficult than any other to escape, in part because it is not even regarded as an addiction. It is entitlements addiction, the addiction to getting something for nothing.
One indication as to the power of entitlements addiction is the fact that while great numbers of people have voluntarily given up drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. — almost always at great pain — few give up an addiction to entitlements. For the majority of able-bodied people who get cash payments, food stamps, subsidized housing, free or subsidized health insurance, and other welfare benefits, the thought of giving up any one of those and beginning to pay for them with their own earned money is as hard as giving up alcohol is for an alcoholic.
Politicians know this, which is why it is close to impossible to ever reduce entitlements. And, of course, the left knows this, which is why the left almost always wins a debate over entitlements. Every American who is the beneficiary of an entitlement backs them, and many who are not beneficiaries of entitlements would like to be.
Aside from ideology, this is why the left constantly seeks to increase entitlements. The more people receiving government benefits, the more people vote left.
In this sense, the left in every country — in America, the Democratic Party — should literally be regarded as a drug dealer. Virtually every American given a free benefit becomes an addict who relies more and more on his dealer, which is exactly what the left seeks.
As noted at the outset, one reason entitlements addiction is so powerful is unlike other addictions, it is not regarded as an addiction. As a result, few entitlement addicts see themselves as addicted. Why, then, would any of them seek treatment? To the entitlement addict, receiving entitlements is as natural and uncontroversial as breathing air. Air is free, and so are entitlements.
Another reason entitlements addiction is unique among addictions is that very few drug, alcohol or gambling addicts believe that they are owed drugs, alcohol or their gambling debts. Entitlement addicts, on the other hand, believe that society owes them every entitlement they receive — and often more. The very word “entitlement” conveys the message that the recipient has a right to the benefits. So there is a moral component for entitlement addicts that does not exist among other addicts (except for opioid dependents, who are in pain; these patients really are owed painkillers, and society is immoral for not allowing them to receive them).
Not only do entitlement addicts believe there is moral virtue to their addiction but so do a vast number of non-addicts known as progressives. They believe that there is a moral imperative to give people more and more entitlements. This, in turn, feeds the moral self-image of those dependent on entitlements.
Yet another reason for the uniqueness of entitlements addiction is it ultimately does more damage to society than any other addiction. Other addicts can ruin their own lives and those of loved ones, and drunk drivers kill and maim people. But society as a whole can survive their addictions. That is not the case with entitlement addicts. The more people who receive and come to depend on entitlements, the sooner society will collapse economically. Society does not directly pay for drug addicts’ drugs, alcoholics’ alcohol or gamblers’ gambling debts, but it pays every penny for entitlement addicts’ addiction. In fact, the current U.S. national debt is about equal to the reported $22 trillion this country has spent on entitlement programs in the last 50 years.
When you combine the addiction and selfishness of many (certainly not all) of those who are dependent on entitlements (including middle- and upper-class Americans who receive a home mortgage deduction); the tendency for the addiction to grow from one generation to the next; the dependence of one of the two major political parties on the votes of those who receive entitlements for the party’s very existence; and the belief of tens of millions of non-addicted progressives that society is morally obligated to give more and more people more and more entitlements, it becomes very difficult to see a solution.
In the meantime, the entitlement state in every country is failing, forcing them to bring in tens of millions of migrants — many of whom share none of the countries’ values — to keep the entitlement state alive.
This addiction ultimately ruins the character of many of its recipients, the economy of all the countries in which it exists in large numbers and the value system that created the prosperity that made so many entitlements possible in the first place.