The road ahead…

Photo: Frank McKenna

As I mentioned in my first post, this blog is my exploration of solving problems in our world.   My curiosity will be the driving force.  I have so many questions that need answers.

Why have we let these problems form?  Why haven’t we solved these challenges already, what stops us?  What are the ideal solutions?

This blog will take us in a number of different directions.  At times, I will provide an organized, ongoing, in-depth analysis of a given topic.

Other times, I might wander into the weeds to explore something that has simply stoked my curiosity.  Sometimes I will respond to something happening in the world at that moment.

Sometimes I will be brief, and sometimes I won’t.   I won’t post every day, but I will be writing every single day.  In short, nothing is off limits.

Here are some general topics I plan to cover.  I’ll add to this list whenever I feel the need.

  • Poverty
  • Mass violence
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Inequality
  • Higher education and higher education debt
  • The climate change discussion
  • The Drug War
  • Abortion
  • The modern “post-truth” phenomenon
  • The recent conservative political shift in the United States

Each of these problems has solutions.  I plan to play my part in finding them.  For starters, we need to set the stage.  In a few days, I will begin with an exploration of why we have chosen to do what we do.

Be Change

Photo by Benjamin Lambert

Before I go much further, I think it would be a good idea to introduce myself.  I began writing in earnest around 2014.  I cannot say I have always been one of those people who saw themselves as an author.  I didn’t have childhood dreams of being a famous author or seeing my name on the cover of a book.

I actually don’t recall any specific passions I pursued.  In high school I knew that good grades were important and I knew that all of my friends and I loved sports, so I worked hard to excel in both arenas.

I can unequivocally state I do not have an abundance of natural athletic talent.  If you meet me someday, you will know what I mean.

I also don’t think I had all that much intellectual talent.  I am not the smartest guy in any room.  I have always been relatively sharp, and I can learn things rather quickly, but I was not the kid who could ace tests without studying.  It has always taken work and focus.

It wasn’t until late in college when I began to notice the fire in my belly.  I recall one particular night when I saw the movie The Rainmaker, based on the John Grisham novel of the same name.  In the movie, a new, idealistic attorney trying to enter into practice comes across a case where a health insurance company is wrongfully denying service to a young man with leukemia.

As I watched the movie, I remember being shocked at the thought of a health insurance company doing such a thing, and I struggled to believe this could actually be true.  When I discovered this kind of thing happened in our healthcare system with relative frequency, my fire was ignited.

How could this be?  Why would anyone cause this much pain to other people with such blatant unfairness?  From that point forward, my fire never died.  Still, I took very few drastic steps in my life to really do anything about social problems like this one.

I did become a social worker, and I worked hard to help people navigate systems that were stacked against them.  I also eventually found my way into higher education, which is the closest I can say I have come to planting the seeds of change within such systems.

From the moment I felt the fire ignite, I have felt a persistent, burning desire to do something bigger, something that would truly change the game in which we are all players.  Something that would lead to justice and fairness.

The problem is, I haven’t taken that crucial step forward.  I think about ways to change the world constantly.  As a professor, I jump up on my soapbox and sound off about the world’s problems.  I enter into frequent conversations around beers with friends and family.  Yet, I haven’t created the conditions in my life to be a true vehicle for change.

This brings me back to my opening declaration.  It is now the beginning of 2017.  I have been writing for over two years and I am just now releasing my thoughts into the world.  Why?  It’s because I have been comfortably within the box.

I have chosen to stay well within the boundaries of what is socially acceptable, recognizable.  I haven’t pushed too many buttons or stepped on too many toes.

I think most of us find comfort in this box.  It’s familiar, safe, populated.  This is why we don’t encourage each other to climb the walls and peer beyond, to push the envelope of what we think we know.

I am probably about half way through my life.  One of the things I now recognize about myself is the fact that I am a late bloomer.  I always have been.  I am not your early adopter.  It has taken me a while to reach the full recognition that we, as humans, are not operating in the realm of truth.

We are not looking in the right places to solve our problems.  I can no longer live with that fact.  I must do something.  I am ready to be change.