It’s an interesting discussion that has taken place over the last few weeks during the research portion of the time which has gone into this essay. Just how does one eliminate poverty at all, let alone in 30 years? The answer is simple: One doesn’t. In order to eliminate poverty, humanity as a whole must collaborate and empathize. The good news is that human beings have the most complex set of mirror neurons in the animal kingdom, granting our species a very powerful tool in building civilization, empathy. The bad news is two-fold, in that as our society increasingly relies on advances in technology we are less reliant on our natural tools such as empathy. Furthermore, improvements in communication such as social networking are appearing to have polarizing effects on human beings, leading to a less collaborative society as epitomized by the current session of Congress. With all this said, it is entirely possible to eliminate poverty in the next thirty years. And the cure is not a matter of economics; it’s a matter of culture.
The “American culture” has always been centered on an economic method. That the political philosophy and idea of egalitarianism in America are at odds with capitalism, the method of economics proven to create vast wealth, as well as vast poverty is quite curious. Not that capitalism is particularly bad, but for a country in its infancy searching for its identity, capitalism became a virus. It infected our newfound culture, and through innovation and military supremacy, we sold/infected the rest of the world with a capitalist ideal. And with a simple, deliberate adjustment to capitalist culture, we can easily eliminate much of the poverty in the world. This simple adjustment is a matter of terminology. We are raised to believe there is only so much to go around, and we have to compete to get the biggest share of the pie we can. We are groomed to compete with one another, to be better than one another, in a rather primitive fashion. It doesn’t take a leap of faith to equate our idea of money to the Maori’s concept of mana. Mana, of course, being the spiritual energy imbued in living objects which could be taken through murderous dominance. Obviously, we’ve come a long way as financial dominance has replaced murderous dominance, even though war is still particularly popular, it’s big business. To simply change the word ‘compete’ to the word ‘collaborate’ would have an incredible impact on the upcoming generation.
As collaboration and teamwork are consistently reinforced to the individual through personal experience and the theories presented in the educational environment, this would soon yield a society naturally tuned into their own empathy. As a result, individuals by and large would be interested in the success and happiness of their neighbors. It would become commonplace to view others as a teammate in a nonzero sum game rather than a competitor in a zero sum game. It appears that our goal is to live in a sustainable and technologically advanced society while maintaining balance with nature. A terminology priority shift can plant the seed in the new generation that can grow into a phenomenal moral ascension that obliterates poverty as a natural result. But a change in terminology is not a plan, it’s a shrewd trick. A culture focused on collaboration will generate a society in the proper context with which to actually realize the goal described above. What are the nuts and bolts of a plan, for a collaborative, more empathic society that seeks to eliminate poverty?
Zimbabwe biologist, Allan Savory, has developed a holistic management system that can reverse desertification, or turn desert into thriving grassland that can be worked by agriculturists year after year. This strategy restores biodiversity and improves the overall ecology and health of the area where it is employed and should be quickly adopted by all cultures around the world. Additionally, it increases profitability for farmers working already suffering land by restoring carbon, nitrogen, and water. Injecting this method into any population would improve the quality of the land, improve the economy and food production, and is sustainable for the long term.
Yet this development is only one of many of the ideas being tested by scientists and researchers, delivering quite conclusive results as to the proper ways to manage aspects of life, from the mental health of the individual, to the most beneficial ways for a society to behave as a whole. The key to resolving poverty is to adopt these strategies. Now is the time to employ active, deliberate management, conscious of the cause and effect relationship to any action. Not only are we a civilization in which a realist perspective has us poised for collapse, but we are a civilization that has existed long enough to allow the power to flow to the masses.
As civilization began, power was concentrated at the top in the form of a god or ancestor. The power was channeled through a leader, which he used to control the population. Over the centuries the masses gained more power and influence. Only the illusion of authority still persists. Now, with such platforms as Twitter, for the first time in history, any region in the world can participate in a direct democracy rather than the failed American ideal of a representative democracy. The big picture has us understanding that everything we do, and much of everything that happens, is connected. In order to solve a problem like poverty, we must not merely look at poverty, but the why and the how as well. If we take an honest look, and make an honest attempt to improve our relationship with each other and the rest of the natural world, it is entirely possible to eliminate poverty in the next 30 years.