Despite all the crime, violence, and depravity in the world, these songs shine a ray of hope on how we can all work together to make it a better place.
USA for Africa – We Are the World
Originally sung by and written Michael Jackson with Lionel Ritchies, We Are the World was famously covered by various artists in response to the deaths caused by the Ethiopian Famine in 1984 – 1985. Proceeds for the sales of the records were sent to humanitarian aid. So this is one song that not only sings about making the world a better place, but it also directly helped others in times of need.
Lyrics for humanity: We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving. There’s a chance we’re taking. We’re taking our own lives. It’s true we’ll make a brighter day, just you and me.
Matisyahu – One Day
If there’s one truly uplifting song that will stay relevant for decades, it would be Matisyahu’s One Day. One day is an inspirational song about our collective hope for a better world by stopping the violence and hate. It paints a picture of how beautiful the world can be one day if we just stop and learn to love each other.
Lyrics for humanity: All my life I´ve been waiting for, I´ve been praying for, for the people to say that we don´t wanna fight no more, there’ll be no more wars, and our children will play. One day.
Bob Marley and the Wailers – One Love
Bob Marley has often been known to use his music to further causes that fight against oppression. While One Love is often compared to John Lennon’s Imagine as a call for unity, many people seem to miss the part where Marley sings about how sinners will one day pay for their evil deeds against the oppressed. It should also be noted that One Love was written in the midst of the violence surrounding the Jamaican elections in 1976.
Lyrics for humanity: One love, one heart. Let’s get together and feel all right. As it was in the beginning (one love), so shall it be in the end (one heart). Alright, give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right. Let’s get together and feel all right.
Our Lady Peace – Life
Of all the songs by Our Lady Peace, this one has to be one of their most uplifting tracks. According to frontman Raine Maida, “That song to me was such a simple premise. It’s really about positive energy. Everybody deals with simple things that get people down, like money problems. You just have to deal with stuff and turn any negative energy into positive energy. That’s the way to get through life.”
Lyrics for humanity: Oh, life is waiting for you. It’s all messed up, but we’re alive. Oh, life is waiting for you. It’s all messed up, but we’ll survive.
The Fray – How to Save a Life
The Talmud says that to save a life is to save the world entire. One of the most poignant songs to illustrate this is How to Save a Life. The song emphasizes how important it is to try to save at least one life, no matter how hopeless their situation may be. Lead singer Isaac Slade explains that he wrote this song after working at a camp for troubled youths. He encountered so many kids with problems, and it seemed like there was no instructional manual for how to help them.
Lyrics for humanity: Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend somewhere along in the bitterness. And I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life.
John Mayer – Waiting on the World to Change
While some songs on this list transcend the ages with eternal constructs like love and peace, John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change is a lot more specific. In this song, he describes his generation’s apathy towards social issues as a way to point out what’s wrong. His generation is so wrapped up with their own issues that they fail to see what’s going on in the real world. But by pointing this out, Mayer hopes to spark action.
Lyrics for humanity: Now if we had the power to bring our neighbors home from war, they would have never missed a Christmas, no more ribbons on their door. And when you trust your television, what you get is what you got ’cause when they own the information, they can bend it all they want.
War – Why Can’t We Be Friends
This question is goes a lot deeper than just being friends with whoever you happen to see. War drummer Harold Brown says, “Because all of a sudden you find out we’re more alike inside than we are on the outside.” With all the prejudice and racism in the world, what we should all realize is that we’re all made from the same stuff, and there’s no harm in just treating every human as one of your own.
Lyrics for humanity: The color of your skin don’t matter to me as long as we can live in harmony. Why can’t we be friends? Why can’t we be friends?
Rent – Seasons of Love
How can one quantify the value of a human year in life? In the play and movie Rent, the lead characters go through difficult situations like drug addiction, AIDS, and some even die. But the lyrics ask you not to measure the value of a person’s life through their mistakes and problems, but through the love they give.
Lyrics for humanity: Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. How do you measure a year in the life? How about love?
John Lennon – Imagine
We can’t have a song about hope for humanity without this classic by John Lennon. In this song, John Lennon asks his listeners to imagine a place where the things that divide us all did not exist. He posits that if we were to abandon all the things that make us different from one another, the world would be a better place.
Lyrics for humanity: Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.
Michael Jackson – Heal the World
We started the list with Michael Jackson, and we end it with him too. Heal the World might just be the ultimate song about making the world a better place for humanity. It is said that this is the song that Michael Jackson was most proud of, and we can see why based on the beautiful message it imparts on the world.
Lyrics for humanity: Heal the world. Make it a better place. For you and for me and the entire human race. There are people dying. If you care enough for the living, make it a better place for you and for me.
On days when you feel like there is no hope for humanity, listen to these songs and allow them to inspire you to spark change in the world.