When I planned this trip, besides wanting to learn and know myself the objective was also to share the intensity of the experiences to inspire the change in people! But many people ask what change is that.
The society in the format it is today works only for the few ones who have the psychological comfort of having the power to choose what they want, while many not even have the power to choose. The change we need is to plant a seed in the consciousness of everyone who has this power, so they become aware that they are responsible for the others who don’t have it and also aware that the equality of opportunities is possible. The powerful ones need to not be accomplice anymore and to stop believing they can’t do anything to solve the problems of others, therefore they can notice that they are an active part of this change. But how?
I believe we need to start from the basic, practicing more empathy, respect and truly caring about someone else. Having only sympathy for someone is not enough, as we need to really want to be part of the transformation and not only to agree that there is a problem, comprehend that “it’s complicate…” and do absolutely nothing about it. This social-emotional inequality created gigantic psychological barriers between social classes and grotesque prejudices that make us seem to be different races in the day to day. How many people you know that don’t even look at the waiter and say “please”? How many times you’ve seen someone not even saying “thank you” for the salesman? Those are minor gestures of lack of social education that became normal.
This power is directly related to access, like to education, health, housing, respect and to live with dignity. There is a scale of these privileges where the ones in the top have more power of choosing whatever they want and as the power diminishes the options of choice narrow down. This decreasing line gets to a point where people can only eat sometimes, have no drinking water, never go to school and have no medical care. That’s all because the development didn’t get to them.
As we know, this distribution has a pyramidal shape, where the most powerful ones are a few and the less powerful ones are many. We can create infinite theories to understand how we got to this unequal reality, but as the past is immutable we must focus in changing the today and we need to be concerned about how we can solve it.
During this trip, I’ve faced numerous situations where I felt uncomfortable as I thought that somebody treated me without respect, but after a while I realized that it’s not fair to react with this sensation. Why? If everyone needs to be taught about how to interact with each other in the current society formats, how could it be right to expect that everybody behaves “politely” if there are so many people who couldn’t be educated, a few not even by present parents willing to raise and teach them.
One of these examples I’ve lived was with a bike-taxi in Vietnam who charged me twice the regular price. How can I judge that he acted in bad faith and was disrespectful, if the only school of life he had access to taught him that tourists have a lot of spare money and it’s quite correct that they pay more. According to what I’ve learned in my school I can’t accept it and I think it’s incorrect as I feel misled, but what is more unfair?
So far these situations seem to be comprehensible due to those differences, but what in the case of the powerful ones who had education, access to everything and the power to choose, but still cannot be polite, fair and use the respect in the day to day? What the justification would be? I don’t know this answer, but a powerful ego becomes very dangerous and I believe it has created these social barriers that put us so far away from one another.
The common factor with part of this responsibility is money. It has the undeniable practicality of being our main exchangeable currency, but the power that is granted to the ones who accumulate it the most made them fell in love with it.
With this possibility of “having” we started to believe that this is the path to happiness, freedom and a guaranteed future. It could even make sense, but this thought is unfair and selfish because it’s not everybody that equally has this opportunity of choosing. If there was this equilibrium the greed for being richer would be just one type of dream among so many and that’s fine, each one with his own.
However we need to be fair. The merit that many people believe they have conquered to do whatever they want with their financial power is restrict and an unequal merit. It can be authentic to enjoy the reward of so much work, but what about the ones for who this is unreachable? If a successful professional (according to the current standard) who was born in a family with good socio-financial conditions would have been born in a family with almost no money, among ten siblings, in the rural area of a country in civil war, his chances of having this same success would be tiny. Let’s be realistic, this is a fact. Therefore it’s necessary to enjoy this merit with the consciousness that it seems not to be fair to do nothing in order to contribute so that everyone has these same chances.
Today, the majority (within the minority) of the ones who have these options in their reach is still tolerating this inequality, as they think they can’t do anything about it. Actually also because it’s easier to ignore and keep on living alongside the comfortable self-indulgence and their other concerns like progressing in work, buying a new phone, going to the best restaurants, etc… The problem is that, in fact, they are precisely the ones who have the power to change and this seed of consciousness, which I mentioned in the beginning, needs to breed fruits.
This acceptance is even more unfair as who have less power are the ones who serve everyday who have more power. In extremely unequal countries, like Brazil, they are responsible for enabling the powerful ones to live with all the stewardship they want. After all, how the rice gets to the plate for dinner, the new clothes in the closet are made and the house is cleaned every week? It’s an interdependent relation where the majority of the people work with a minimum value to make it possible and are not even recognized for this.
These powerful ones are not only the top hundred billionaires in the world, are all of those who managed to have money and can choose where to live, what to eat, what to buy, where to go and what to do, like me. I’m not showing off, it’s just to follow the example… Those who don’t have much power are not only the refugees who don’t even have a piece of land to call homeland, are all of those who have limited choices and are hostages of the first job opportunity they had, independently of having a fair salary and the rights respected.
It’s a vicious cycle that won’t end the way it is, just because who have a lot of power will keep on accumulating more and who have a little will keep on trying to have more, by all means. But again, how to change what is happening?
Being aware of your social role to diminish this inequality and feeling motivated by this responsibility. This starts in the work, truly caring about the well being of your employees by appreciating their quality of life and being fair with your customers. Also through small gestures like a smile and a “thank you” more frequently. Another very simple way is destining part of the income or time to help (even if just 0.1% of one of them). It could be a donation for an organization that you admire or a volunteer work once a month for one hour. Each one can encounter his own way of contributing according to his goodwill concerns and interests.
To empower everyone we need to contribute so more opportunities can exist. Small daily routine decisions can help, like preferring to consume from a social responsible company that invests in its community instead of a global which was already prosecuted for forced labour. Or then buy an organic product from a business that practices “fair trade” instead of a multinational that uses pesticides which are forbidden in different countries. (If you don’t know the fair trade concept, it’s worth reading more.) This is just to give real examples, without mentioning names…
A very important detail is that we must extinguish from our head that we are just little ants among the billions and that a minor decision about what to buy to eat alone in a Monday afternoon doesn’t change anything. Every act, as tiny as it could be, has the power to be an example and disseminate. If we believe that and we’re loyal to our principles, waves of gigantic changes will form. For example, if nobody buys transgenic grains with pesticide anymore, the industry will compulsory change the product and so forth. This is bringing awareness. In the other hand, if we keep on going without believing we’ll perpetrate the same mistakes, addictions and miseries.
In this stage of self-knowledge many times people look for self-excuses to get rid of this social obligation, like “oh, it’s part of life, I can’t do anything” or “oh, everybody needs to work to have their own money” or “I don’t have time”. However, we all have total responsibility for our social role. We got to a point that the majority of people just don’t care and choose not to look.
The mission we must accomplish is to be able to give the power of choice to the ones that don’t have it. It’s not about getting richer, but it’s just the simple chance to choose, such as living in a clean place, having water, eating something you like and being able to study to learn.
It’s an inequality of power and love, but as when our eyes can see our heart can feel we can look at it and change.
To find organizations there are many websites, in Brazil, Atados has a database with more than 340 NGOs. It’s very easy to find many different ones that you will like and get in contact. https://www.atados.com.br/
This amazing video shared by Buzz Feed shows very well this barrier of privileges. It’s short.