Archive for the ‘Poverty’ Category


June 21, 2013 4 comments

I’ve been reflecting on the idea of ‘fair’ over the last few weeks as I process through a broad range of situations and conversations that range from racism to dealing with change, from major health concerns to lack of finances, from disciplining children to global poverty, and so forth and so on.pout - fair

I have come to two conclusions.

  1.  The expectation that life should be fair is usually more the issue than the actual problem
  2. In most cases, the problem isn’t really about fair as much as I didn’t get what I want.

So, what do you think of these definitions?

Need (from the mind of Bryan):  American slang for “want.”

Fair (from the mind of Bryan):   American slang for “rules established to meet my ‘needs’”

Fair (from the dictionary): Free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.

Below is a more poetic way to think about it that I have found helpful.

There is a secret wisdom-of-the-ages

that holds the key to breaking

our cycle of self-imposed suffering.

The secret wisdom is,

“Life is not supposed to be fair.”

Get over it – Life isn’t Supposed to be fair.

You don’t have the power to make life “fair,”

but you do have the power to make life joyful.

Get over yourself, and be of service to others.

“Fair” is not a useful concept.

Life is not “fair.”

You can’t make life “fair.”

You can get angry.

You can complain about life not being “fair.”

You can attempt revenge – perhaps violently.

You can inflict great suffering upon yourself

in the name of life being “unfair.”

And Life is still not “fair.”

– Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Categories: Poverty, Reflections

Pocket Aces and Poverty

October 25, 2010 1 comment


Texas Hold ‘Em Poker is a game of probability, skill, strategy, psychology, and luck.  But, mostly probability.

I think the only luck part is what hand you are dealt.  After that it is mostly building strategy around the probability of winning with the cards you have been dealt and the ones that come after.  The good players know how to create good strategies with bad hands because they are the ones everyone gets dealt more often than not.

But let’s say, that I could get dealt two aces every time.  Regardless of what others are dealt, I am going to get the best hand around 70% of the time.  And, let’s say you get a 2 and a 7 from two different suits, every time.  That jumps my odds to 90% of having a better hand than you.

Starting every game with two aces in my hand does not guarantee me a win.  In fact, I could stand to lose more chips with my loses because I know I am going to win most of the time.  But, at the end of the day, after hundreds of rounds, regardless of my skill or yours, I am going to take home most of the chips all the time.

Aces are not better than twos or sevens.  Each card is made of the same material.  But the rules of the game make them of higher value.

White, Middle Class, Straight, Males with a decent education are not better than anyone else.  We are made of the same material.  But, it seems the structure of our society deals us the higher percentage cards every round.

So… in the context of poverty in the United States, I am wonder what odds I have, based on the luck of the deal, at experiencing poverty and/or breaking the cycle of poverty.

And, I wonder what the odds are for people who always get dealt the 2 of spades and 7 of hearts.

Some questions that are rolling around my head as I fiddle with my chips.

1.      In real life, what is the strategy for the person who keeps getting dealt 2 Aces to not just get more chips, but to make the game fair for everyone?

2.      Is there a way to make the rules more fair for everyone?

3.      It looks like giving more chips to the poor person who keeps getting dealt bad cards isn’t helping, nor telling them to play harder.  So what do we do so they can play too?

4.      If I was dealt 2’s and 7’s, eventually I would probably quit, wait till after the game, and just rob the person with the 2 Aces.  Those odds are at least a little more in my favor.

Categories: Poverty, Reflections

Coffee with Martin Luther King, Jr.

February 28, 2010 6 comments

I just finished a research paper on Martin Luther King Jr (and a lot of coffee) that specifically looked at his views and proposed solutions to poverty (in US and globally).

I think his insights to help poor (please don’t read lazy, free loader, stupid, etc…  I think we all know some rich and poor people that are lazy freeloader and we all know some rich and poor people who work their butts off) people to “leap the gap from backwardness to competence” are very powerful and wonder what he would have to offer in our country’s economic situation today.

If I could have a cup of coffee with him, I would love to hear his take on these questions.

1.  If we could somehow redistribute the world’s (or even just the USA’s) wealth in a fair and just manner, which would happen first:

  • Peace, justice, and the elimination of poverty
  • Money would end up in hands of previously wealthy and poor would be poor again
  • A new social economic class would be set up and a new people group would be poor
  • Something else better
  • Something even worse

2.  Is our democratic capitalist system in America just and fair to all people?

  • Is it really equal?
  • Do some have an easier way to prosperity simply based on race, gender, class, economic situation as opposed to simply “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”?
  • Does our system have a way to help a person who doesn’t have a “bootstrap” to pull on?
  • Do we have laws and financial systems that are actually obstacles to some to pull themselves up?

3.   Why is government financial help for the “haves” (buyout, tax break, subsidized loans, education grants, $8K tax credit for first time homebuyers, social security, GI Bill) called and often viewed as something different that for the “have nots” (welfare, public assistance, food stamps, section 8 housing, WIC)?

4.  Can those who live under the poverty line move above it without the government’s help financially (assistance), programmatically (jobs), and legislatively (dealing with laws that are unfair)

5.  What are the pros and cons of democratic capitalism?  What are the pros and cons to democratic socialism?  Are there better options or hybrids of the two?

6. What are the key factors that contribute to poverty, specifically in such a rich country as the U.S.?  What are some of the solutions to help alleviate poverty relevant to each factor?

I might need two strong cups to understand his answers.

Would love to hear your thoughts, questions, and comments.

Categories: Poverty, Reflections

Reflections on Poverty

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment


I think this might be a theme that dominates my mind (and writing) for the next few years.

  1. I am studying it in school – On purpose.
  2. I attend a church that has a focus on helping the poor locally and globally – I really like that.
  3. It dominates the news (Haiti, Health Insurance, Immigration, Unemployment) –  I hate this.
  4. I am living pretty close to it personally (at least in the context of my community and in the USA)  – Not sure what I think about this.
  5. I work, eat, and hang out with people every day that are in some kind of poverty (homeless, mentally ill, prostitutes, addicts, jobless, orphans, abused, abusers, veterans, rapists, violent, depressed, suicidal, etc…) – Most days I feel very honored to listen to the stories.

So… I feel like I am surrounded by it – And that is mostly by choice.

Here’s some of my questions.

  1. In today’s world, who are the “least of these” as depicted in the Jesus’ story in Matthew 25:31-46?
  2. What does the “least of these” actually mean?
  3. What am I supposed to do in regards to the “least of these”?
  4. How do I serve the “least of these”?
  5. If there isn’t any fruit (examples: change in person, change in circumstances, investment from person, etc…), is serving enough?
  6. Can a person and/or an organization do the broad work of :
    1. Giving the fish (providing for a tangible need)
    2. Teaching  to fish (providing education for person to be empowered)
    3. Giving fishing equipment (make sure person has the correct tools to do …)
    4. Making sure everyone has equal access to the fishing hole (advocacy)

Any thoughts?

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