The moment that Lancy licked my face – my world was changed forever...
Lancy is a puppy, and that moment took place in an airline lounge in San Francisco. If that doesn’t really seem like a life-changing moment to you on the surface, you should know that Lancy is short for Lancelot Encore. He is named that because he is a clone – cloned from a yellow lab named Lancelot. Lancelot’s family had such a strong, loving bond with him, they had his DNA frozen with BioArts International, a tech firm in California. BioArts collaborated with the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in South Korea to clone Lancy. (His DNA was placed inside an egg from a South Korean dog and implanted in an Irish setter in South Korea. Lancy was born about two months later in a single litter birth.)
For most of us, cloning is one of those abstract, futuristic, concepts you see in Sci-Fi. Or at least until you’re playing with an adorable cloned puppy in an airline lounge and he licks your face. Suddenly, the abstract concept was real, and the future was the present.
That moment led to me writing my book Risky Is the New Safe and took me down the rabbit hole into technology and the future. Not in the sense a futurist or engineer might explore it, delving into the tech side of things, but as a philosopher would, envisioning how that technology is going to impact our day-to-day lives. And because my work is centered around prosperity, everything I study filters through that perspective. And from that perspective, the progress we’re making in the world is having some frightening and unintended consequences…
We have been gifted the greatest time to be alive in human history. We’re on the precipice of trips to Mars, ocean floor real estate development, genetic engineering, asteroid mining, virtual reality, machine learning, settlements on the moon, and the blockchain. And we’re pissing it away. We’re taking the brightest minds of our era and basically begging them to lower us to the depths of depravity...
Our finest writers are being lured away from literature to write clickbait headlines. Our greatest engineers are being diverted away from innovation to develop better filters for posting food pix on Instagram. Our best scientists are being hired away from the sciences to develop hate and outrage algorithms for social media platforms.
We’ve lost the fucking plot.
In our pursuit of bigger, better, and richer, we’ve been infected with harmful, limiting beliefs about happiness, money, and prosperity. Most of these beliefs are based on religious superstitions, nanny state control measures, or bad premises taught in the education system. And now the Internet, social media, and other technology is causing these destructive memes to ricochet around the world, infecting billions of people with these batshit crazy beliefs. Let’s discuss two of these beliefs that we need to purge from our consciousness. First…
We must lose the believe that poverty is inherently virtuous, noble, or saintly. Poverty often causes people to lie, cheat, steal, and even kill. There’s nothing spiritual about it.
But there’s another equally bad belief we need to lose...
The belief that people in poverty are inherently lazy, senseless, or criminal.
Because while this second belief isn’t as prevalent as the first one, that’s only because there are more poor people than rich people. I would guesstimate that percentage-wise, as many poor people believe the former as wealthy people the latter. Both beliefs are dodgy and prevent us from reaching our highest good as a society.
Let’s begin by acknowledging the fact that there are tropes, stereotypes, and bad actors on both sides of the spectrum. There are wealthy people who abuse their wealth to exploit, manipulate, and even enslave others. Just as there are poor people who believe they’re entitled to other peoples’ resources, or, use their situation to exploit and manipulate others. The people who act in the manners described above on both sides are co-creators in ignorance, limitation, and lack. But these people should not be used as examples for the bigger groups of poor people and wealthy people. Such generalizations won’t yield any useful lessons and only contribute to more prejudice, discrimination, and hate.
I have dissected the bad premise of the first belief in an earlier post here, so won’t elaborate more in this essay. Let’s explore the problems with the belief that people in poverty are in that state because they are slothful, unwise, or seek to achieve wealth dishonestly. Making those kinds of judgmental statements about poor people is foolish and reflect the prejudice, ignorance, and arrogance of the speaker. Because while we exert a tremendous amount of influence in how our lives play out, each of us begins at different entry points and with a huge disparity in the resources we have to combat poverty. While it is true that some of us certainly worked harder and or smarter than others, that doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility as humans to facilitate opportunities for all. And to show empathy, care, and encouragement to those unable to protect themselves. If we look the other way, we have failed in the most important test of our humanity.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, we’ve made huge steps as a society in fighting poverty. The overall standard of living continues to improve worldwide. But we mustn’t become complacent; the gulf between the wealthy and the poor is still too wide. We don’t have a functional safety net to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and that is the greatest failing of my generation. We took such a materialistic view of our aspirational ascent that we lost track of many of the other important elements.
It’s time to get back on track. None of us can be truly prosperous unless all of us are prosperous. That is the only way to ensure a just culture, enlightened civilization, and world we’ll want to live in. To correct the inequities, we must accept the fact that there are systemic and inherent obstacles built into the process that stacks things against the disadvantaged. There is pervasive and systemic bias against the poor in the education system, the judicial system, the political system and the entire economic system.
Right now, there are millions of kids receiving education at home because of Covid-19 school closures. Some of them are being taught by their nanny, on a big desktop monitor with high speed broadband. But children of poor, single parents trying to hold down a job, get their lessons in a McDonald’s parking lot, because there’s no Internet at home. Do you realize the difference in results inequities like this produce?
I was arrested at 15 for armed robbery, got probation and a chance to turn my life around. There are black and brown kids that got seven-year prison sentences for shoplifting sneakers or marijuana possession. When President Trump tests positive for coronavirus he gets medevacked to Walter Reed hospital with an entire team of the best medical personnel to care for him. (As every president should.) But what are we doing to protect the supermarket clerks, delivery drivers, and first responders who are keeping the country running during the pandemic?
As an analogy, imagine the journey from poverty to prosperity is the length of a marathon, 26.2 miles. Lots of people begin at the starting line. But there are some people who get to start ten or even 15 miles ahead of everyone else. Many literally start at the finish line. And there are others who are forced to begin running ten or even 15 miles further back from the starting line. Let’s not be so foolish to think everyone has to exert the same energy and perseverance to reach the finish line. And certainly let’s not make prejudgments like the people who had the farthest to run are somehow lazy or less intelligent. More often, the opposite is the case.
What then is the best way to approach this situation from a prosperity consciousness?
First, recognize the basic facts of the situation. There is nothing inherently spiritual about poverty, nor is there anything inherently lazy or less intelligent about people living in poverty. There is systemic bias against poor people and serious and sustained additional roadblocks they encounter to achieve prosperity.
Poverty is not the absence of money and material things – it is a state of consciousness. All poverty is grounded in ignorance. And to truly cure poverty, we need to raise the prosperity consciousness of everyone on earth. (That’s the job I signed up for.) But let’s not be so foolish to think changing consciousness alone will be sufficient. It won’t.
We have to recognize the basic injustice and inequity of the current situation. It’s foolish and unhelpful to keep denying this reality. We must acknowledge it and take the right actions moving forward to rectify the situation. If you’re in poverty, please don’t give up hope or believe the game is so stacked against you it is hopeless to keep trying. Millions have overcome the odds and you can as well. If you’re in prosperity, please don’t arrogantly believe you’re entirely responsible for your good fortune. And don’t heartlessly forget about those less fortunate than you.
As long as there are still people in the world without freedom, opportunity, and hope – the future remains dangerous for us all. No one can be truly prosperous when others are blocked from a pathway to achieving their own prosperity. Those of us who have been blessed with prosperity have a sacred responsibility to make sure that everyone has the opportunities we were afforded. That’s where I want to pick up on the next post. In the meantime, please share your thoughts below.
Peace, - RG