There are many problems facing our world. Countries are troubled by poverty and crime and people are divided over racial and religious tensions. War and terrorism leave many people in constant fear. Millions of homeless children cannot navigate through the educational system because their lives are so complicated outside of school. There is no shortage of problems.

One of the reasons that we are numb to many of these problems is because we look at them through labels. We talk about the “homeless,” “the criminals,” and “poor people” but as long as we only see labels, we miss the people that are wrestling through these issues.

I have noticed this phenomenon over my lifetime: many of these problems are solved in relationships. When we are in relationship with people there are often differences or problems, but we work to solve them because we value the relationship. If our child commits a crime, we help them rehabilitate. If our parents are homeless, we go to great lengths to provide shelter. If our friends are hungry, we will do with less so they can survive. If our co-worker is a different race, we usually see them them differently because we are in relationship with them. Each of us have worked to solve these problems with the people we are in relationship with. We are typically indifferent to the people we are not in relationship with.

Relationships are the great problem solver. Almost all problems can be solved in the context of relationship. Relationships often require work, but when we truly value the relationship, we work to overcome normal relationship challenges. It is in these relationships that many of the problems of the world can be solved.

Racial tensions in close relationships rarely go unresolved. Religion does not divide people that care about one another. We intervene when our loved ones are hungry or homeless. It is clear that many of these problems are addressed when we get past labels and get into relationship with one another.

Instead of relationships, we allow the government and other organizations to solve societal problems. The reality is that these problems will never be solved with the impersonal tactics of government and charities. Organizations are incapable of relationship, people are.  An organization can solve a problem for some, but they cannot offer the care that will solve these issues for the majority. These problems must be addressed individually.

If we truly want to see these problems fixed in our world, it will not be done because we raise taxes or send a larger check to a non-profit organization. These problems will be addressed because we decide to become personally involved with people and build relationships that get past labels and work to overcome the struggles each of us are facing. Almost all problems can be solved in relationship. Let’s be about the business of building relationships, not bigger organizations.