Posts Tagged With: people

Our Journey To Solve Global Problems

Teach-Girls-End-World-PovertyWe are on a journey to see that problems in our world which technically need not exist be eliminated through understanding and implementing solutions.

It is within my reason that there is no technical reason why people on earth lack life’s vital needs such as clean water, healthy food, safe shelter, and access to tools enabling communication and education (e.g. relationships).

We as human beings have engineered incredible technological achievements that could easily provide a high quality of life for all people. Because we have the capability, but have not yet chosen to utilize technology for the betterment and liberation of those who are imprisoned by the devices of poverty, my conclusion can only be that the true solutions to our world’s problems dwell within the thinking and heart of each individual, community, country, and species of humanity.

A change in our thinking and what we view to be important is the first step in seeing generosity spread, first from the individual, then to the community, and then through the world. When a community knows generosity they know no poverty because the resources available are freely shared with each other, not for profit or power over each other, but from a realization that the welfare of another is also the welfare of our-self. If I am well fed while another is starving, while the resources are available for both of us to be well fed, this screams to the attention that something must be done, something must change.

When I first began to become aware of the problems of starvation, disease, lack of clean water, and the countless deaths of children happening around the world due to poverty, I found myself questioning how one could possibly make a difference in regards to the problems which have existed for as long as any of us can remember. What confounded my logic all the more was to learn that the problems didn’t need to actually exist. I first thought that surely these problems are just the way things are and there is no changing the way things are. I took a deep journey of introspection to discover the core of these problems in hopes of also discovering a way to solve the problem within us that perpetuates “the way things are.”

I first traveled across the United States to meet the homeless. I grew up in a lower-middle class home which by no means was wealthy by American standards, but I had also never experienced what it was truly like not to have a roof over my head at night, food in my belly, and the many other comforts which life for most in America avails. So, I wanted to go to cities through America to met the homeless, those often overlooked by the majority of society, to understand how they had arrived to the circumstantial place in life they had.

I went with the intent of providing meals for those who were hungry, and although food was appreciated, I discovered that the true thing the homeless desired was simply my time, recognition of their humanity, and someone who would listen. This was my first clue into what can make a difference – relationship to one another.

We live in a world with unsurpassed tools of communication and connecting with one another. But on the other hand, this enhancement of ability to connect with one another, I think, has lead to us growing more disconnected in ways that can be difficult to measure with algorithms and metrics. How can we measure the level of connection with one another? That, to me, is something quite intangible which cannot  be so easily defined with numbers and letters. A deep connection of relationship to one another is something that can be expressed simply in the look two people exchange with one another, the touch of a hug or pat on the back, and the time spent simply listening to another tell their story. Listening is a two-way activity and is starkly different than reading someone’s story through a news article, facebook feed, or blog post.

When the human connection is made we begin to feel that another’s well being is important to us, and the spirit of generosity begins to be given room to grow.

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Intentional Experience

Homeless people on the streetsIt’s difficult to understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. When we experience how life is lived by others our own perspective and understanding increases.

In 2009 I went for a drive. I had no idea where I would go, but I was headed east in my 1987 Buick Skylark that would shut down if I pressed the accelerate too hard or too quickly. I had lived a semi-luxurious lifestyle in my young adult life; earning a good salary, living in nice homes, and enjoying nice dinners. But I had this urge to meet and spend time with people living on the streets, to hear the stories of people all too often neglected by our society.

I didn’t have a motive of some type of “humanitarian relief” agenda, I simply wanted to gain experience of how life is lived in a way that I had yet to experience. Furthermore, I didn’t have much by way of personal funds to give monetarily. I traveled through Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee, stopping in cities along the way to simply go find people to talk to. What I discovered change my own perspective on why people are homeless, and what they truly need.

I had always thought that really helping the poor meant giving them food or a shelter for the night, but I quickly realized that all people living within the circumstances of sleeping on the streets wanted was someone to listen, recognize them, and see them as an equally valuable human being. Food and shelter certainly didn’t hurt, but I learned that the physical aspects of giving aid must come from a personal connection or relationship with people who need help in obtaining access to life’s most vital needs.

I think that far too much of humanitarian aid is given by organizations and philanthropists who see what they are doing more as a job they do for a good purpose or cause, without truly understanding those we mean to help. But in order to truly help someone we must understand them, know them, and see things from their perspective. It is often the case that to see things from another’s perspective, we have to live as they live and experience what they experience.

In 2005 I remember coming to the conclusion that one of my primary goals in this life was simply to understand. I wanted to understand as many perspectives of people as possible, in order to gain a deeper understanding of life and why our human world is the way that it is. At the age of 19, the problems of poverty confounded my mind. I couldn’t understand why so much of the planet was subjected to such living conditions, while we have so many resources available. I couldn’t understand why churches squabbled over theological differences, while the poor were suffering on their doorsteps. I couldn’t understand why some had so much more than they could ever use or enjoy, while so many lacked the very resources needed to live at all.

I knew there must be a solution.

The solution to the problems we face as a planet begin in a place undefinable with human language; although, I will do my best to illustrate my thoughts using these symbolic representations we call letters and words.

Love, I believe is something much more than the four letters comprising it could ever could truly encapsulate or evoke. Love is a force which binds together all of humanity; initiating compassion, generosity, and liberation within each of our hearts. A community that fully knows generosity does not know poverty.

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There’s A Place Called Manzanita

Photo from Manzanita Oregon

View from the beach of Manzanita, Oregon

There is a place along the northern coast of Oregon called Manzanita. And it has a piece of my heart.

I’ve always greatly enjoyed the sunny beaches of southern California, but for me, nothing beats the foggy, golden coast-line with just enough of a cool breeze to make a hoodie or jacket the ideal attire.

I arrived in Manzanita in late July of 2012. A small town of 300+ residents, the time I was there was in the middle of tourist season when many vacationers from Portland and other places had come to enjoy the beauty that is Manzanita. There was an inwardly narrow coffee shop that was packed with customers every-time I would visit. The people were exceptionally friendly and instantly ready for conversation about the grander subjects of life.

I spent two nights at a campsite about a mile south of the town. On my second night I met a woman who was moving from Vancouver, B.C. to San Francisco where she would begin a new job as bio-tech researcher. Unlike most people, she was making the move on bicycle, while a moving company packed and shipped her stuff to where she would be living San Francisco. We shared a great conversation about technology, web design, philosophy, and music; before retiring to our respective tent-dwellings.

The next morning as I walked by the campsite office I was offered coffee by the park rangers. This was a first experience in camping and I heartily accepted the offer for a little added boost to my mile-long-walk into town. Finding a place to order coffee and use wifi was proving to be difficult, as the coffee shop was filled without a seat or place to setup a laptop. The local library did provide wireless internet; however, they did not provide any power outlets. Unfortunately for me, my laptop’s battery charge had been fully used the evening prior. I stumbled upon an internet cafe and searched for an employee to discover who to pay in order to use the internet; but only an empty shack was to be found.

After roaming around, in search of internet, I chose to continue the journey north for the next town of Seaside, Oregon. The simple beauty and quietness of Manzanita added to an atmosphere that I found exceptional of most places I had traveled through on the west coast (which is entirely pretty exceptional).

 

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Preparing for Los Angeles

I am beginning to write about the two months I spent on the west coast during the summer of 2012. Along  the journey, hiking the west coast of the United States from Los Angeles to the Oregon-Washington border and back. I made many notes, snapped some photos, and will write from the best recollection of memories, stories of people I met, and the adventure of traveling into the unknown (to me) without a plan, without much money, but with a wealth of friendships and inspiring experiences I would discover along the journey.

flyingtolaovercloudsSince the age of 19 I knew my dream in life was to travel the world with the simple goal of building relationships. Extending friendship to those on earth who are all-too-often overlooked and ignored by the majority of society. I dreamed of living a life that many wish for, but too few dare to experience. A brilliant adventure with the wind as our steering wheel, giving direction for each passing moment by moment. In the wind is where I find peace. Living from a place where I know nothing about what each day may hold, who I might meet, and what road I may follow – that’s the road for me.

I suppose that civilization itself, requires us to live in a very different world than what I have described above. A world which thinks very little of living with the wind; rather, living to harness or conquer the wind’s force for civilization’s own purposes. A world which relies on schedules, routines, and earnings of income to provide for mankind’s desire to accumulate and pillage natural resources. One man thinks of how to grow life in the earth, which produces benefits for all of life on the earth. Another thinks only of how to utilize life to gain individual power, personal pleasure, and personal security. A man who pursues power for himself creates slavery. A man who pursues pleasure only for himself, denies enjoyment to others. A man who pursues personal security, by any means other than the security that is stored within a human heart, will never truly be secure, and his insecurity will spread to whomever accepts it. I look upon the civilized world as a world much harsher than what one finds in the wild. Civilization is certainly enticing with its comforts, and I am certainly not opposed to enjoying the quality aspects of goods in this world. But when it is the necessity of society to possess items, we become enslaved to that need.

Anyways, back to my story…

I had spent ten months back in my hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I had previously spent one year living in Olympia, Washington (which is a book in itself), before having the wind blow me back to Oklahoma for awhile. In that ten months I found a rejuvenated sense of purpose and connection to the dreams I had held for as long as I could remember. I began to receive invitations to come work with nonprofits throughout the world. From orphanages in Africa, ministries in Pakistan, Haiti, Dominican Republic, DR Congo, Wales, and more! For the first time my dream seemed tangible. As if it were right in front of my eyes and ready for me to walk.

In June of 2012, Los Angeles began to be a thought in the back of my mind. I had no reason for this, no person living there whom I knew; it was a fleeting thought. One day, June 15, I acted on one of those fleeting thoughts and checked airline ticket prices to LA. In four days, June 19, there was one ticket for $178 – one way. I checked every single other day through the end of July, and every ticket was priced for $300 – $400. I found this quite astounding, gave it a couple of thoughts, and chose that if it the ticket were still that price tomorrow, I would pull the trigger and go. I believe I am on earth for one reason which is to go into all of the world to love people exactly for who they are. I’ am not here to spread any one  religion, nor convert anyone to anything but what we already are.  I believe true friendship is seeing each person as equally valuable, equally loved, and equally blessed with the full measure of love and compassion.

The next morning I awoke to find (to my amazement) the ticket was still priced at $178. I purchased the ticket and now I had a couple of days to wait before going one-way to Los Angeles (this was the extent of my plan).

Stay tuned for my next post about arriving in Los Angeles, walking to Venice Beach, and a glimpse into what it’s like staying one night at a hostel and the next night at an IHOP.

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