What do you see in the above photo?
What would you think if we were to tell you that the higher the GDP in a country, the lower the quality of life for its citizens? What if we were to tell you that everything you see, how you understand the world, how you understand society, and how you perceive other people is determined by your personal beliefs and whatever ideology you follow? How you see and relate to everything is determined by your own individual life experience, your background, your upbringing, and the choices and decisions you make in life.
Let's expand on this concept
What would happen if you were to put your ideology and belief systems to one side? What if you looked at other people not through the lens created from your own baxckground and social class, what would you see? You would see other people who are, in their individual and unique ways, people just like you. That other person is just another version of you. What do you stand to gain or benefit by discovering how that other person is just another version of you?
So let's return to the image above
If you look at the image above you will see a young man who is studying and working hard. The word 'meritocracy' might cross your mind, and you will see a young man working hard for his future. But if you look again at the image above, but this time from the 'orher you' you will also notice the electricity which gives the light, a rather expensive laptop computer, and you will also observe the fact that this young man is sitting in a rather well stocked library. You will see that this man has space which isn't shared with other people. He is making use of a library which is not only well stocked, but it is also open and accessible to him. You will see a laptop which has access to the internet. You see time, because this man needs to have free time to be able to study. You see money, not just to buy the laptop but also to pay for the data connection. This is what the 'other you' sees. Does the other you describe these things together as luck?
Now let's go back in time
So let's now go back in time and try to imagine this young man as a small child. This is important because children are among the most vulnerable in our society. They are dependent on their parents for everything. We cannot write about children without the fact that so much inequality and poverty existing in our society. Children really don't have any say because their life is determined by whatever they are born into, the circumstances, the social background of their parents and family, and this will determine the quality of life for that child, how they are educated, and what opportunities they have acce4ss to. This is important, because very few children born on a council estate in London or Liverpool get to study at cambridge or Oxford.
The very real issue of inequality
As a child your life is determined by the social context of your childhood. As a kid you can want to be a lawyer or rock star all you like, but if there's not enough money, no connections and no opportunities it's never going to happen. People don't like talking about such issues because these issues seem so abstract and vast that they feel disempowered. This is one of the reasons why Qultura exists.
So what is more important - merit, luck or background?
These are just the generalizations, the bigger picture, the overall view. While all are important they are often not the direct factors that people - people just like you - t6ake into account when making choices and decisions which directly affect your life. Other factors come into play. One such factor is risk, particularly risk which relates to your income. Risks faced by someone who is claiming Universal Credit or some other benefit may be totally different to risks faced by someone who is comfortably off with a stable job. Benefit claimants face a risk of benefit sancrions and an instantaneous loss of income if imposed by a work coach in a Job Centre. This risk is not faced by anyone who is comfortably off with a stable job and salary. This leads to another important factor - how you are defined by other people in society. How do other people perceive you? This also influences your life very heavily and the choices you make in life. Value is another important factor, the value of the outcome and what it has on your life. This is determined by the individual values you hold. but there are other factors which you take into account. Will you get your needs fulfilled or not? Will this lead to happiness?
The two most important issues about poverty and inequality.
There are just two extremely important factors when it comes to poverty and inequality in society. In fact these ywo are the most important factors. The first is that the mainstream is the minority and social privilege cannot exist without marginalization of other people. Secondly, and perhaps far more importantly, most if not all programs and initiatives designed to tackle poverty and inequality - from State funded welfare benefits through to charities, social movements and human rights organizations fail because they get to define poverty and inequality and impose those definitions on those people affected. They fail because they simply don't give people affected by poverty and inequality a platform or opportunities through which society can learn about these issues and do something effective to address these issues. Generally people who are disempowered by poverty and inequality stay disempowered, denied access to a platform and opportunities, because they are defined by other people and further disempowered as a result.
The real reason why poverty and inequality exist
Poverty and inequality don't exist because of some 'inviisble hand' is creating some artificially contrived and fake economic system. Poverty and inequality exist because ideology exists, because without ideology there is no broadly defined 'us' and 'them' social categories to keep people in their place. Why does ideology exist? Ideology exists because hierarchies exist, because people believe in external authority and belief systems based on authority and hierarchy - be it religious, political or the State. Ideology exists because of greed and a lust for power and profit which explains why the most widespread and most popular religion - capitalism - isn't a religion at all, but an outdated 17th century political and social belief. Capitalism thrives on consumerism, on people working to earn money to buy things and goods and products and services to uphold fake economies to keep the hierarchies in power and to disempower the masses. people who are working and consuming are not experiencing life, they are not participating in society or their community, their entire energy and focus is on maintaining an imaginary system running which causes the most amount of hardship, suffering, deprivation and death to not just other humans but also the planet and other species.
The real reason why poverty and inequality both persist
The key to a successful life is personal autonomy, sovereignty and authenticity. Be yourself, be real and be authentic because society functions on the basis of trust and confidence. However if you lose access to these things through being poor or considered lesser you become trapped in poverty and inequality. This is because you become defined by other people and when you become defined by other people, particularly in society, you become disempowered. You become disempowered because how you define yourself and live your life holds little value and your life becomes all about how other people perceive you, their beliefs and what they believe you to be. If this is what you are experiencing then you are going to struggle because you simply don't have the energy, the resources or the knowledge or experience to fight and overcome the personal beliefs of many other people. If you submit you become a slave in mind and body and from that point forward your life will always be defined by other people. When that happens you become enslaved in the system.
The importance of social conditioning and background
You don't need any special training or knowledge to work against poverty and inequality, you don't need a college degree, you don't need to understand the history, to know and understand all the '-isms' you just need a sense of humanity and compassion. You are not responsible for the social context into which you are born and were raised, therefore this means you didn't choose to be socially privileged. If you are socially privileged, why bother or even care about poverty or inequality? You might be thinking "If I am not affected by poverty or inequality, if it doesn't impact on my life, then why should I be bothered by it?" But see, discrimination and social conditioning starts from a very early age. You can continue in your cosy, insular lifestyle and existence but this is your choice, and you can choose to do nothing to address the issues of poverty and inequality in the society which gives you your privilege and freedoms. We are assuming that, if you are somewhat socially privileged and have access to freedoms and comforts in life, that you are not an insensitive or selfish person. We will leave it to you to consider why you haven't made any conscious effort to address the issues of inequality and poverty and make some effort towards creating a fairer, more equitable society. We will leave it to you to work out why you are remaining indifferent and numbed yourself to the inequality and poverty to which other people like you suffer and struggle.
So what about meritocracy?
Quite possibly you believe in a meritocracy and that the best person qualified should always get the opportunity. But what if the majority of people in society are simply excluded from being considered? Can we still talk about society as being a meritocracy? What if there actually is no level playing field in society, and most people in society, who are excluded and do not have any sort of social privilege, are disempowered and denied opportunities? Where do you start?
Have we internalized and intellectualized inequality?
is not another reason why poverty and inequality exist the fact that we just accept that both exist? Do we not just accept that some people are going to be left out? Do we assume that some people are left out just because they are not good enough? How do we know? How can you say someone is not good enough if they have never had an opportunity to prove themselves? We talk about diversity and freedom of opportunity, but we are not doing anything to ensure that these opportunities exist and we don't create the spaces for this diversity. Many people have internalized and accept that 'some' people are left out of the mainstream but they are not conscious of the fact that the mainstream is the minority, that most people in society do not enjoy social privilege, and as a result are denied access to any sort of opportunities. We end up accepting poverty and inequality in society because 'it is what it is'.
How do we go about changing this? Part of the social conditioning is that we are, as individuals, made to feel so small and often so insignificant. This is especially true today when there is so much talk about capitalism, corporate power, globalization, when there is so much misinformation and disinformation promoted by the media, and alternative media, and when everything is pushed towards becoming abstract and ideological. It is therefore no surprise that many people feel disempowered, isolated, alienated, and are led to believe that they don't have the power or resources to change anything.
Poverty and inequality are traumatic experiences
Both poverty and inequality are traumatic experiences. Both kill people not just every year but also every day, and even every hour. But more than this both poverty and inequality hurt. Being socially excluded and stigmatized is one of the most painful experiences a human can go through. Maybe not physically painful, but emotionally painful. This is why people affected by poverty and inequality drink, this is why some of them take drugs, it's because poverty is difficult and inequality is so emotionally traumatic and painful. Try walking a mile in the shoes of someone who is street homeless, who has no home, no safe space, no prospect of ever getting off the streets where even going to a bathroom and having a pee is problematic and difficult. Have you ever tried to go to sleep in an alleyway behind a busy city street knowing that if you don't get your sleep you won't get through the next day?
What we can learn from the poor and destitute
Being poor is not a personal failing. People who are poor are not lazy nor are they stupid. Quite the opposite in fact. Being poor or destitute involves having skills, intelligence and an understanding which isn't shared among other people. The poor actually make better lifestyle choices when it comes to outcomes which are based on experience. the poor have better financial management skills than the rest of the population because relatively speaking being poor is more expensive, and nobody else understands the opportunity which money - a symbol of power - represents better than the poor. This might seem strange if you aren't poor, but this is the point. You don't understand poverty or the poor. What's more the poor know that you don't understand them.
The issue of trust
Whenever anyone claims to want to understand poverty, the poor understand that it is these people who turn to the hedge fund managers who've never done a stroke of work and the politicians, the people behind the soundbites, the ones who appear in public and vanish just as quickly, and not the people who are actually experiencing the poverty and inequality. The poor and the destitute are among the smartest people when it comes to figuring out other people and reading their emotions and thoughts, because their lives often depend on it. This is why the poor often don't trust people who are better off. the poor know that it is the hedge fund managers and politicians who are listened to and believed by others in society, not the people who are actually experiencing poverty and inequality.
They know that while people will moan, complain and whine about the system, they are the ones who sit back and allow the corrupt, unfair system to flourish. You see, if you are blinded by your own privilege and status, you don't see that those who are worse off, the poor, and the destitute notice and pay attention to your indifference and lack of concern. They know that generally people who are better off are fake and all talk, no action. they know that when push comes to shove people who are better off will always side with authority and not with people affected by poverty and inequality. This is why people of a different skin colour often don't trust people who perceive themselves as white. Why should they? What have so called white people ever done to combat racism other than mouth platitudes to say that it's wrong?
What can be done
Like ideology, much of that what holds people back and prevents them from doing something to address poverty and inequality amounts to little more than a belief in illusions and concepts which have no relationship to reality.
You can change the way you relate to people and the world around you
Part of the problem when it comes to poverty and inequality is that many people lead insular lives well within a personal comfort zone and based on personal beliefs, usually within the parameters of a belief in ideology or external authority. Reality exists and so does freedom of choice, but many people actively choose not to expose themselves to a different reality or perspective because they feel that they don't really need to, because they are not taken there by their work or employment, their social circle or family doesn't take them there, and so people often think "Why would I want to make that effort? Why? Poverty and inequality doesn't affect me." This is what sets up the vicious circle.
Change cannot take place from within a comfort zone
But change cannot take place in any community or society if people are unwilling to step outside their own personal comfort zones or stop clinging to their personal beliefs and ideologies. For change to take place, and we are taklking about REAL change, people are going to have to step outside their comfort zones, they're going to have to let go of or question their personal beliefs and ideologies, and they are going to have to get out there and interact with those affected by poverty and inequality and leaern about poverty and inequality from them. Part of the problem is that social privilege blinds people to the experience of others and - unless they have actually experienced it first hand - most people are clueless and ignorant about both poverty and inequality. Far too many people are far too self-absorbed, worrying about their own individual reality, and they fool themselves into thinking that their little version of reality is the reality for the whole world and society. It isn't.
ideology doesn't lead to change, but prevents change
All too often people get sidetracked by ideology believing that it will lead to change when it doesn't, it just traps people into living in the future. Ideology is a rip off, it is a con trick, ideology is what sends people down rabbit holes of misinformation and disinformation. ideology is what draws people into petty squabbles and disputes. ideology creates nuances in language and leads to nuanced conversations, creationg further inequality and further division and hostility. less and less people are prepared to have conversations which exposes the logical fallacies and inconsistencies in their thinking, which challenges their belief systems and ideologies, which expose how people can become ignorant and which challenges the parameters of their comfort zones.
There are no easy answers or simple solutions
There are no magic solutions or easy answers to poverty or inequality. Qultura doesn't offer solutions or easy answers, Qultura doesn't do soundbites, yet everything which can lead to solutions are contained in this website. We are not sorry that our website is text heavy and requires a certain amount of reading, because working to tackle poverty and inequality requires effort, it requires learning, but most of all it requires discipline. But development of technology wasn't easy either, nor was flying into outer space or landing on the Moon. our website contains enough theory and principles which can lead to solutions which explains why, consistently since our formation in 2009 as a small organiozation without funding Qultura has been effectively and successfully supporting people in ways where they can overcome both poverty and inequality. Our work also influences other, much bigger organizations.
Change always starts with the individual
Change is always possible and it always starts out in the same way. Creativity starts in chaos, disorder, in a place of darkness. You as an individual human being started out as a small clump of cells in the darkness of your mother's body. Everything in existence starts out the same way as a single idea which is shared with another person. You have total control over your mind and the way you think. You can be who you want to be. You are also your own highest authority. But you can also be your worst enemy. Only you can limit your identity. Only you can use your beliefs to shut down possibilities. Only you can turn away from making the effort, from trying again, or from picking yourself up after each failure. Only you can maintain the conflicts you become involved in. You are just a reflection of society and the universe. change starts with you.
Does there need to be a reason?
Do you really always need a reason for making a decision, a choice or taking some form of action? Why does everything you do, and everything you think need to have some benefit to you personally? Can you not do something with an open mind? Can you not do anything for fun? To explore or discover? Are you afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone? What is it you're afraid of? Are you afraid of learning something new? Are you afraid of developing consciousness? Meeting new people? Are you afraid of living? What is it you're afraid of? Why?
Are you part of the controlling 30% minority?
There's a romantic notion of a ruling, controlling 1% who exert authority and control over the 99^ of people. This is a romantic notion and has got nothing to do with the reality which exists out in society. It makes no difference whether you are a corporate director and a billionaire or someone who is privileged and has both position and voice but does nothing to bring about change - you are still part of the problem and the cause of the fear that the remaining 70% experience on a daily basis. But what do you tell your children when they ask challenging questions about why things are as they are in society? Are you sure you're not teaching your child to accept poverty and inequality as a given in society? You see those questions from children do fade away and children stop asking those questions. What perspective of the world are you teaching your children to accept if you have children?
You can get involved with Qultura
There is nothing to stop you from getting involved in Qultura. There's no ideology or belief system. There's no costs or financial outlay involved. We don't charge any membership, we don't ask for subscriptions, we don't place you under any obligation to buy anything or pay for anything. You don't have to believe anything or think a certain way. We are a community resource. We present you with the opportunity, which exists today, as it exists tomorrow. It's up to you whether you want to step outside your comfort zone, learn something and do something about poverty or inequality.