This month is full of so many opportunities for “Letters Healing Poverty”. I’m spending most of February attending lectures and workshops by some of the most prolific and best selling writers of our time, including Samuel Friedman, Jeannette Walls, Anne Lamont, Dr. Reza Aslan and Ayat Akhtar. The person I am most intrigued to hear speak is Jeannette Walls, author of “The Glass Castle”. Her book, which I’ve just picked up at my local bookstore, is a first hand account of what it was like to grow up in poverty. Her incredibly creative, artistic and deep account of her experience has become a #1 New York Times best seller, due to her incredible portrayal of resilience, redemption and the vibrancy of dysfunction. I can honestly say that I am beyond thrilled to read the story, before I meet her later this month.
Finding good authors is a key for this project. “Good” is defined by the quality and professionalism behind the written word, but also by the writer’s ability to integrate imagery, poetry and depth. I am so impressed thus far by what I’ve read from my contributors. I’ve also realized how absolutely universal poverty is and how in one way or another, each one of us plays a direct or indirect role in it. Many of us may know what it’s like to not have enough money for all the pleasurable things we want to do like travel, go to concerts, take art and yoga classes etc, while some of us are rationing our food for the week, standing in line at the food bank and counting every gallon of gas in our tank, barely being able to take our children to school. Poverty is right here in our back yard! Not having enough of something is a very universal concept, but I think the biggest problem is the mind set.
I recently posted an awesome TED talk by UC Berkley Researcher, Paul Piff. If you haven’t yet watched it and are interested in my project, it is a key study that you’ll want to understand. Paul’s findings prove that a wealthy person exhibits drastically different behavioral patterns from a person in financial insecurity. He details the qualities that a person whose accumulated wealth displays, such as: inconsideration, excessive consumption, disregard, lack of empathy, attitudes of deserving and dominance. The study claims that when someone experiences financial well being, they acquire a type of mindset. What was absolutely incredible about other studies related to this topic that Mr. Piff has done, is that when people are subtly reminded of concepts like kindness, charity and service-even though they consistently displayed selfish and inconsiderate behaviors as a result of their wealth, they become triggered into a more compassionate behavioral state.
The point that I am making is that Letters Healing Poverty is an open forum for two elements: for people with wisdom and compassion to contribute their words, time and donations for the vulnerable populations of our society. What this project aims to do is to bridge the gap between apathy and suffering. I don’t just think this is possible, I believe that this is a necessity for the absolute survival of the human race.