How Poverty Affects Everyone, Even the Rich

One of the most frustrating things about the issues of poverty and social justice is that often times it feels like no one really cares. Sure many people may hear a statistic or see a picture of a hungry baby and feel sad, but they usually carry on with their day virtually unaffected. Or worse yet, they are confronted by a homeless person on the street and they hand them a couple bucks or some loose change in the hope that that will appease them. In the hope that they will disappear. They refuse to engage them, hear their story, acknowledge that they are human, and they especially try their hardest not to think of them again. They are part of the scenery of a big city, not people, just ugly, moving statues that for some reason terrify those who are more fortunate. Why is this?

I believe there are many reasons why, but one of the main reasons is that it either doesn’t affect them or they refuse to believe that it affects them. Many rational and intelligent people can see that certain issues, if they don’t affect them now, can affect them in the future, making those issues easier to take up. Causes like cancer awareness/research, environmental issues, domestic violence, etc while all noble, are to varying degrees tainted with the threat that it will affect the person intimately at some point in their lives. Rarely do people (in the US especially) see poverty affecting them intimately until it is too late. That is because wealth (or perceived wealth) is the cultural norm and it is thus revered as a fulfillment of our constitutional obligation to the pursuit of happiness.

Poverty is also ignored by the masses because it means that people have to care and get emotionally involved. They know it is easier to keep emotions at a platonic level so that their lives can remain unchallenged and thus unchanged. Change means being uncomfortable, or worse yet, could lead to pain and most people (especially in the West) do everything to avoid discomfort. They keep their eyes down, keep their slippers at the edge of their bed, buy and install electric towel warmers in their bathrooms, start their cars from indoors to warm it up on a snowy day, and most tragically, they have refused to talk about the issues that really matter.

Quickly, however, this obsession with comfort creates a numbing effect. Because people can no longer feel pain or discomfort, they can no longer feel joy and connection. As Brené Brown said in her TED Talk: “You cannot selectively numb emotion.” Furthermore, when people seek to numb their emotions they end up numbing the most human part of themselves. Thus it is imperative to understand that when people refuse to take on the burdens of others and become emotionally invested in their stories, they are not only denying those “others” but also denying their own humanity.

By Darwinist, originally posted here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/darwinist/23092205/

“We All Wanna Change the World”

RevolutionWhispered rumors of revolution are blowing through the country. The economy is floundering, people are losing all that they have worked for, and the debts are mounting: a perfect formula for change. Those at the bottom have become the first to receive the blows and as more and more people’s wealth and security are destroyed they begin to see the flaws in the system and join the movement to advocate change. Workers are no longer being taken care of, and everyone is at risk.

This is a time of revolution, and it is one that may not look like any other. This revolution is far more covert. It is the creative revolution. No longer will the US working world be filled with drones and robot-like humans, rather with people who have ideas of their own. It will be a full embrace of the individualism that the US has always preached, but never actually achieved. People will be seen as valuable and in Seth Godin‘s words they will be “indispensable.”

We hear more rumors of this in other places too. TED notoriously has speakers preaching this idea. From David Kelley, to Julie Burstein, and Elizabeth Gilbert to Sir Ken Robinson’s two talks on this subject, all these speakers believe that the time is now to release the creative genius in all of us in order to not only have personal fulfillment but to make society more productive.

We hear the success stories of countless risk-takers who made invaluable contributions to society because they were willing to let themselves be creative and different. Apple. Google. Inception. Gotye. All vastly different contributions to the world, but all were hugely successful because of their uniqueness, creativity, and because they were fueled by a vision.

The world before today was full of mediocrity. Not because the people of that time were mediocre intrinsically, but because they CHOSE mediocrity. Because the world rewarded mediocrity with stability. Cue Seth Godin and his book Linchpin:

“Where does Average Come From?

It comes from two places:

1. You have been brainwashed by school and by the system into believing that your job is to do your job and follow instructions. It’s not, not anymore.

2. Everyone has a little voice inside of their head that’s angry and afraid. That voice is the resistance–your lizard brain–and it wants you to be average (and safe).

If you’re not doing as well as you hoped, perhaps it’s because the rules of the game were changed, and no one told you.

The rules were written just over two hundred years ago; they worked for a long time, but no longer. It might take you more than a few minutes to learn the new rules, but it’s worth it.“

Today, those old constructions are crumbling. What the world needs now are people who think for themselves -those who are willing to offer fresh ideas and new perspectives.

The good news is that every person on the planet is able to do this job if they allow themselves. We are all creative by nature and are all unique, but we must take a risk to unleash that creative potential. With the past promises of security crumbling, there is very little to lose. The time is now. Jump into the revolution.