When the weather gets cold and stays cold, my mind tends to wander to warmer weather activities. Today’s activity is motorcycle riding. Years ago I sold my Harley and mentally kick myself most days for doing this. I hope to be out riding again one day.
When organizing a group ride there are certain rules that should be followed in order to provide the best and safest experience for everyone. This means each group should have a leader and the riders with less experience should be behind that person. There is a life lesson in there somewhere.
January 8, 1964 marked the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s declaration of the “War on Poverty.” And as political maneuvering begins to heat up talking points are beginning to emerge mostly as commentary on how this proves that big government fails, because we still have poverty. Now I could throw out the numbers that show poverty at a much lower level than it would be otherwise if not for government programs like social security, Medicare and Medicaid. But that is really not the point. The point is that when we become stalwart members of a divisive group or organization and then tow the party line without giving room to critical self-examination, we begin to leave people behind. Two of the most obvious of these groups are politics and religion. We tend to jump in behind the leaders of these groups and follow closely which diminishes our ability to see the bigger picture. Those who are not as strong, who are part of a different group than ours or are simply not part of a group, get pushed to the back of the line, fall away from the pack and are sometimes forgotten.
The war on poverty would be better fought and chances of winning that war would be increased if we participated in groups like we were riding in a group of steel horses down the open road. Find a leader. Make sure that leader is willing to and can identify those in the group who lack strength or experience and will give them a place near the front. That way the whole group can adjust to the needs of the less able and less connected.
Of course that is a grand and existential illustration of a better way. There are some easy ways to make it happen, to be the leader and identify those that need help. Be a voice. Speak up and speak out against discriminatory thinking. Educate yourself so you can learn to recognize instances of people getting left behind. Most importantly, don’t judge. Those in poverty need to know that they can use the assistance they qualify for without fear of snide remarks or sharp looks. We must understand that we cannot ever know that whole story of why someone falls into poverty. We must understand that it is an uphill battle to get out of it and a little unconditional compassion will make you leader of a pack.
This is a good opportunity for a personal thought experiment so I will ask you this: If you were the leader of a pack, or group, whom would you choose to fall in behind you?
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