I have two wildly competing ideas on my mind that I hope to cover together, without sounding completely discombobulated. To be coherent I should break them away from each other and write two entries. I might. Let’s see how this goes.
The first idea I have in my head is a pretty big one. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and discussing problems I see around me every day. Mostly in a place called aNewsCafe. Recent articles there have addressed the problems of addiction and homelessness in my home town. It’s a big problem here, and it’s getting worse. I respond over there in the comments section about ideas others have for solutions. I provide a penny’s worth of solutions of my own. The problem with my solutions, and many of theirs, is that they tend to address symptoms, not causes. We need to think bigger picture.
I’ll give you an example.
A big question we hear a lot, in various compassionate and compassionless ways, is how we can get all the homeless off the streets. I’ve seen many solutions to this problem, from citizen gangs brandishing guns to homeless compounds promising basic human needs in exchange for basic human effort. I’ve seen counter arguments to both of the above that included “not all vagrants are bad people” and “most homeless are there because they want to be.”
Well, obviously, the problem (too many homeless) is a complex one that will need a combination of enforcement and assistance to solve. As we attack the current symptom (their omnipresence) we need creative, multifaceted solutions.
Kudos to everyone seeking those.
But like I’ve said for a long time, to the few who will listen, the problem is bigger than that. And it isn’t getting worse because people are getting lazier or services are getting easier to receive or because my hometown is a mecca for the disenfranchised. It’s getting worse because, overwhelmingly, the deck has been stacked in the favor of the haves. Therefore, we have a lot more have-nots.
To emphasize this point, check out this article and graphic, from the New York Times. If you think things have gotten worse, you’re right.
Neoliberal policies, enacted by our leaders over the last forty years, have systematically taken from the poor and middle class to fill the coffers of the filthy rich. Opportunity went from universal to transitory to elusive to virtually impossible, for so many. As we fretted about the creation of a dependent class in America we created a hopeless class instead. Without hope, folks just give up, or turn to drugs, or both. Welcome to your home town.
What I’m trying to tell you is that chasing these folks away with guns or corralling them up into encampments won’t solve the problem. Only opportunity will.
The other competing idea I had for my blog today (did you think I’d forgotten?) is one of time management. Besides working, sleeping, and addressing national poverty, this week, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do more with the time I have. I’m forever behind the clock these days. I’ve pushed things like “writing more” and “interacting with other concerned humans” into my schedule and it’s bursting. It’s gonna blow.
So I figured I’d write a blog today about some great, epiphanic notion I had to help more, learn more, teach more, and utilize my time better, overall. Certainly there’s a crossing line, some way to tie these two competing ideas together.
That started with a breakdown of all the things I want to and have to do every week, and the amount of time I want to spend on each thing. Then, some simple math. Whatever is left over would become the time I have to save the world.
The hours added up to 181.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a long time you already know that there are 168 hours in a week.
Looks like it burst a while back and I was too busy to notice.
Where do we go from here? Well, my assignment – starting today – is to reconcile my time-debt without losing any of the things I truly love or need. Your assignment is to start thinking big picture.
We need to address the symptoms of the grand national larceny, no doubt. Symptoms can irritate on every level. But to truly create a better tomorrow, if not for us then for those who follow us, we need to address the cause. Understanding the cause is a big, first step. Click some of the links I’ve provided. Dig until you have that epiphanic moment. Dig until you realize we are all worthy of a great life.
And then let’s work together (once I free up my schedule 😉 ) to reverse the flow of gains from the few to the many. Let’s take back what is ours; they’ve had it long enough.
You’d be surprised how quickly we can solve our problems, then.
“S is for Superman” flickr photo by Xurble https://flickr.com/photos/xurble/376591423 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license