Poverty Is An Illness

End Poverty.jpeg

Poverty is not just a phenomenon of poor, homeless and hungry people. 

It is a social and economic epidemic, and here are some sobering statistics:

– “Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population–more than 3 billion people–live on less than $2.50 a day.”

– More than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty–less than $1.25 a day.”

– “1 Billion children worldwide are living in poverty…and 165 million children under the age of 5 were stunted…due to malnutrition.”

– “1/4 of all humans live without electricity.”

– “80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.”

Those empty stomachs, battered roofs, and tattered clothes are leaving indelible marks on so many impoverished people, yet many at the other end of the spectrum are living so high and mighty…it’s a crazy contrast that fails to make any sense. 

Passing by the stronghold buildings of the World Bank in Washington, D.C., I found these striking “End Poverty” t-shirts that they had in their storefront–although I couldn’t help think how far removed this place was from this sorry state of global poverty and chaotic and violent world affairs. 

We are living in an incredible bubble, and while I often hear how grateful people are to be here and have “all this,” somehow I just don’t think we fully get it what’s going on out there! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014

I was so humbled to hear the story of survival of Dr. Alfred Munzer today at the Holocaust Memorial Observance.

Dr. Munzer was hidden for the first four years of his life from the Nazis by a righteous Indonesian family in the Netherlands.

Earlier this month, Dr. Munzer visited Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, to share his awesome story of humanity and compassion in the face of Nazi brutality and genocide.

Dr. Munzer told his story today through photos of his Jewish and Indonesian family’s life during the Holocaust, and related how his father and sisters were murdered by the Nazis; from his immediate family, only he and his mother survived to come to America in 1958.

I was so inspired by Dr. Munzer’s story and encourage everyone to hear it at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum where Dr. Munzer volunteers.

When people help other people, even at their own peril, that represents true globalization of the human race and the unity of all mankind. 😉

U.S. To Give Up U.S.?

U.S. To GIVE UP U.S.

This is just ridiculous already…I mean why do we even bother to try, if as a nation we are just resigned to give up.

1. Russia takes Crimea and the U.S. has “no options,” instead of considering a variety of meaningful options–will Putin stop with Crimea, Georgia, Chechnya if there is virtually nothing standing in his way?

2. Syrian civil war goes on for almost 3 years and takes 150,000 lives and the U.S. has “few options,” while Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia seem to have and be exploiting lots of options.

3. “U.S. to give up Web oversight” since other governments have complained over our “unique influence”–well darn it, we invented the Internet, why shouldn’t we capitalize on it?

4. Serious “deficit reduction is dead” even though the national deficit continues to grow and threaten the national security of this country, but there are few acknowledged options for politicians that want to get re/elected, except to continue the runaway gravy train.

5. Space exploration to other planets–NASA shelves it–“Space, the final frontier…to boldly go where no man has gone before,” but we’re not really going!

6. Defense cuts threaten U.S. military as the “U.S. faces a more volatile, more unpredictable world,” and even as China ramps up its military budget by 12.2%.

7. Despite the potentially catastrophic impact that a serious cyber attack would have on the U.S. national security and economy, “the U.S. military is not prepared for cyber warfare“-why are we waiting for the proverbial lights to go out?

8. Outsourcing jobs outside the U.S. has already become cliche–with top U.S. Corporations sending more than 2.4 million American jobs overseas between 2002-2011–as our own labor force participation is now at a 30-year low!

I don’t understand what has happened to our national resolve to succeed, to lead, to be a good example in the world.

Why are we in global retreat–instead of steadfastly protecting and growing our national strategic interests in every domain?

We are innovators, entrepreneurs, skilled in every worldly affair, and lovers of freedom and human rights for all, yet we have become gun shy, afraid, and reticent to be ourselves and do what we do best–which is to do what’s right, what needs to be done, and to be global leaders in progress toward the future.

If we can’t do this, if we have just given up, if we have become ostriches with our heads in the sand–then we haven’t just given up on this or that or the other thing–but we have given up on being the U.S. of A.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Eyes Wide Open

This is an interesting video on Plato’s Allegory of The Cave.

It is long-winded, but if you watch a little I think you will get the point.

In the video prisoners who are kept in the dark, chained, and with no real view of the outside world, have a limited perception of what exists out there.

They see shadows, but what is a shadow compared with the reality of true people, places, and things.

When one prisoner is released outside into the light and the wonders of the world, he sees and experiences the greatness, the complexity, and the beauty of it all.

The world, he sees, is much more than a shadow on a darkened wall.

Watching this video, I think how fortunate I am to be able to have an education (and I am actually in a class this week).

It is wonderful to learn and grow–and have one’s eyes opened to all there is out there.

True, not all the topics that I encounter and learn about are of great interest to me (sometimes, like everyone, I feel like I just want to get some Zzzzzs), but just being exposed to different topics and ways of thinking is a great opportunity in and of itself.

I think sometimes, how lucky I am to live in the 21st century in an age of globalization, opportunities for advanced education, and all the technology to bridge time and space and see more than many who came before us.

I imagine that compared to G-d, we are like the prisoners in the cave who only experience and see a minutia of reality, and G-d is out there over us, omniscient.

Someday, G-d releases us from our mortal bodies and we ascend to heaven to partake of his greatness and then our eyes are truly opened as well. 😉

Innovation: Leaders vs. Liars

Innovation

There’s a big difference between doing something and saying you’re going to do something.

Or as I learned early on–words are cheap, but actions speak loud and clear.

The Wall Street Journal (23 May 2012) reported this week about how many companies (and even academic institutions) overuse the word innovation–“the introduction of something new.”

It’s practically become cliche–“chief innovation officers, innovation teams, innovation strategies, and even innovation days.”

So is innovation just the buzzword du jour or is ultimately something more?

Of course, the more we use something like the term innovation, the greater the chance to dilute its meaning.

– “33,528–times [innovation] was mentioned in quarterly and annual reports last year.”

– “255–books published in the last 90 days with innovation in the title.”

– “43%–of 260 executives who said their company has a chief innovation officer.”

However, innovation is not just a word to throw around and use lightly–innovation is our bread and butter in this country; it is what differentiates us from our global competitors (i.e. its one of our main competitive advantages) and is a source of our economic strength.

Not all innovation is created equal–there is “innovation lite” (my term), where we take something and make it better, faster, or cheaper, and then there is “disruptive innovation”–where we really bring something new to the market.

“Everybody’s innovating because any change is innovation,” but not every innovation is transformative.

We can’t afford for innovation to lose its meaning, because leaders and companies that abuse it and dilute it–and don’t ultimately deliver–will end up losing their jobs and ultimately the companies themselves.

Real innovation is like condiments, use it sparingly and it can pack a huge punch–pour it on indiscriminately, and you might as well just throw away the whole dish.

What we need are innovation leaders that don’t just mouth the words and buy the toys, but champion it, invest in it, and empower and encourage their employees to make it happen.

Innovate or die is our reality–so be a true innovation leader–don’t lie to yourself if it isn’t the real thing. 😉

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Seth Waite)

It’s Not iStuff, It’s Your iFuture

Kids_learning_computers

There is an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (11 May 2012) called “Make It a Summer Without iStuff.”

It is written by David Gelernter, Professor of Computer Science at the prestigious Yale University and I was much dismayed to read it.

With all due respect, Gelernter makes the case–and a poor one at that–for keeping kids away from technology.

He calls technology devices and the Internet, “the perfect anti-concentration weapon…turning a child’s life into a comedy of interruptions.”

Gelernter states pejoratively that the “whole point of modern iToys…is not doing anything except turning into a click vegetable.”

Moreover, Gelernter goes too far treating technology and the Internet as a waste of time, toys, and even as dangerous vices–“like liquor, fast cars, and sleeping pills“–that must be kept away from children.

Further, Gelernter indiscriminately calls en masse “children with computers…little digital Henry VIIIs,” throwing temper tantrums when their problems cannot be solved by technology.

While I agree with Gelernter that at the extreme, technology can be used to as a escape from real, everyday life–such as for people who make their primary interaction with others through social networking or for those who sit virtually round-the-clock playing video games.

And when technology is treated as a surrogate for real life experiences and problem solving, rather than a robust tool for us to live fuller lives, then it becomes an enabler for a much diminished, faux life and possibly even a pure addiction.

However, Gelernter misses the best that technology has to offer our children–in terms of working smarter in everything we do.

No longer is education a matter of memorizing textbooks and spitting back facts on exams in a purely academic fashion, but now being smart is knowing where to find answers quickly–how to search, access, and analyze information and apply it to real world problems.

Information technology and communications are enablers for us do more with less–and kids growing up as computer natives provide the best chance for all of us to innovate and stay competitive globally.

Rather then helping our nation bridge the digital divide and increase access to the latest technologies and advance our children’s familiarity with all things science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Gelernter wants to throw us back in time to the per-digital age.

With the ever rapid pace with which technology is evolving, Gelernter’s abolishing technology for children needlessly sets them back in their technology prowess and acumen, while others around the world are pressing aggressively ahead.

Gelernter may want his kids to be computer illiterate, but I want mine to be computer proficient.

iStuff are not toys, they are not inherently dangerous vices, and they are not a waste of our children’s time, they are their future–if we only teach and encourage them to use the technology well, balanced, and for the good.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to “Extra Ketchup,” Michael Surran)