Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Serving the poor by teaching them.

It is interesting what has been coming out of the news about a new wave of thinking in Africa. One women wrote a book discrediting the beliefs that all the aid that came into Africa over the years has helped. But instead, made them dependent on it. Hooked onto assistance. She believes if change will happen, it must come from within. the old adage, “give a man a fish, feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.”

It seems to be the issues at hand for much of our country, regarding entitlements. government subsidies, and programs. “handouts.” It is a sad story to see the native American story. An independent people who lived off land without a need for printed money. But over time, as we have given them territories of often, barren lands, and offered them various financial assistance. They received checks for the resources taken from that land (oil or natural gas), which has them hooked onto our system for payments. A sweet Shoeshone lady, Sparky, in Wyoming told me all about it one day.
And I grieved at how we in part, made them dependent upon us.

Behind all this often lies a poverty mentality. No sense of making the way through it. rising up. Often, there is very little motivation. Or reason. Those in power, are in power and in control. I will take what I can get.

Karl Marx believed that we needed to overthrow the powers that be. All those benefiting from the working class. We should take them out. And give over control to all the normal joes out there. But the free market capitalist believes that you can earn your way to the top by hard work and dedication. No one requires you to stay stuck in that position. You have a choice to engage, or lay back on the couch and collect government checks. That is the beauty of free markets. You are free to decide.

One of the all time great best-selling books is called, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. As the website explains, “the conspiracy of the rich” It’s premise is that a rich father teaches his son something much different than someone poor. And that secret really leads him down a very different path. I have some good friends who have read it, and reading it. and for awhile, I always saw it as some hoakie get rich quick scheme. But lately, I have been wondering if in it lies more of the answer to our problems in America.

In my field of work, and with Training Ground, much of what we initiate young men into is the world of hardship, suffering, and hard work. Many of these young men need an experience of working with construction workers, and an experience outside the world of academia. And our entitled culture. It can be a wake up call of sorts.

But what about the opposite side? What do they need?

I wonder if part of that book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, is offering fathering. Some form of invitiation into capitalism, and business, and understanding of financial systems to get on top of the capitalism ladder.

Getting back to Africa. I wonder what it would mean to father, initiate, and lead these men and women into ways of business, free markets, and economic freedom and prosperity. “teach them to fish.” For people who are poor, and come from poverty, well, they see themselves as always being that. As Jesus speaks of in the parables, you take one talent, and bury it.

A friend, Paul, told me a story of how a project was taking place in Africa where they built a “chicken factory” for thousands of chickens for a village to raise and sell for profit. The delivery of 1,000’s of chickens arrived, and they received a call back in the states with the statement, “they ate all the chickens!”

When you see a chicken. You eat it!

But what does it meant to teach them how to take that chicken, and make a few more, which make a few more, and one talent becomes ten. That doesn’t come very naturally for someone who is just looking for the next meal. Or being handed a fish for the day’s food.

All to say, it seems you have to change the mentality of the people. teach them. Lead them. And call them up. Karl Marx wrote off the wealthy merchant class (bourgeoise) because they did not care but anything but their own profits. Exploiting the lower classes for their own gain. But what if the wealthy class, went and taught this to the poorer class. They taught them their secrets in Jesus. And how to multiply talents.

I just think that would be so beautiful. so redemptive. And to me, instead of dividing the lines further, like all this talk of socialism vs. capitalist, it might merge the two, and make them have a deeper respect for one another. Not to mention what all the rich people would learn from the other side in the process.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Communism or Free Markets?

I am realizing that I have been writing a few 'political' blogs. I don't know why religious people always seem to end up there. Is it ego, ambition, or where the intersection of so many ideas get injected in the marketplace of humanity? I decided that I was going to read two viewpoints. Today in the mail arrived The Communist Manifesto. I felt very un-patriotic opening it up. And quickly hid it from any neighbors. McCarthy would surely be tracking me a few years back. But I also picked up Mark Levin's, Liberty and Tyranny - A conservative Manifesto. Two manifestos. Two very different opinions of just about well--everything.

I just switched them up. Read a bit on one, then on the other.

What a great new experience. Of course, both is slamming the others side. But the beauty of it all, is that it actually made me formulate some opinions. I got to hear from two leading sources. And I am realizing I am not as much a socialist, as I was starting to believe. It helped by reading from the source.

But I also can't deny that Marxism, and socialism, still has dignity in it, and addresses some issues that are too easily pushed aside. There are class struggles. There is the rich and the poor. Bourgeoise, and proletariat. Marx writes, "the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." I think there is a lot ot be said about that. While I don't agree with the solutions formed, I think we need to spend more time (us conservatives) on looking at how capitalism can easily usurp the less for profit and gain. the abuse of capitalism and greed has caused a lot of people to re-examine motives, and control. and ask what is the best economic system.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Fox or CNN?

What political side do you lean on? Right or Left?

And from that, do you watch your news, or your counter-ideas?

I found it interesting to watch the presidential debates months back, and hear on one side, how Obama missed the point, while the other channel was enthralled by his composure and statements. Same speech. Two sides. Two opinions. Which did you want to hear?

It is intensely hard to hear things and take them in, objectively today. There are always two sides. And with our country so polarized, I find that we would rather just have people affirm our beliefs, whichever side they are, than challenge them. It is so much easier to have people tell us we are right, than question them.

I keep flipping channels wondering, which side do I believe? and which side am I supposed to be on? And while we are there, am I supposed to have a side?

There is a lot of good fights out there needed between the two. What is light without darkness? Good without evil? It will always be the case. Two differing views. But I think that is beginning to come out more and more. We can't just blindly live for the one, and not see the other.

This all really came out of a question of which news to watch.

I am glad to know in this confusion my calling as a christian is to follow Jesus. That's the more clear command. But where he heads and what the spirit is doing, seems to wander a path that is not as one sided as it once seemed with the religious right. maybe that is our greatest problem. we went a bit too far to a side. and an affiliation. I guess, we used each other. Rove and Republicans used evangelicals. Evangelicals used Rove and republicans. But with all that using, what did that give us other than a false sense of power? And control?

I think for now, I will take my meals more buffet style. a little from the left, and a little from the right as I try and make sense of it all. that means having to think a bit more while I watch. and listen. I rarely talk politics to anyone I know, really. kind of weird. But I think I am trying to take it in. seems this blog is my confession at times.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A site for the Training Ground guys.

For those who might be interested in following along some of the journals of the guys going through the summer '09 Training Ground session, you can visit www.tgcommunity.com. One of the guys from the fall class, Sam Scott, who is our media intern, has put together one phenomenal interactive site to really get a feel for what happens around the place. From videos, twitter updates, and blogs from their week.