Globally, you are the financial elite. Yes, you. You who earns $31k/year or more.
How do you want to use that power?
I have been sitting with whether I really live my life in a way which expresses that all lives have equal value. Peter Singer, the socially-engaged philosopher, is challenging us to look at all our purchases and which of them are more important using the same amount of money to save a life. $5 malaria nets save lives; ongoing supply of 2-cent vitamin A sachets save lives and ravaging malnutrition. My first response was how much it costs to live a modest life in the West, especially somewhere expensive like London or San Francisco Bay Area. But my modest life includes eating out regularly and travelling. Would you get on a plane if you knew doing so would kill a child? Would you get on a plane if you knew the equivalent money of your ticket price could save a child?
So then we get into this question: how effectively can our giving really save a life? What I am starting to find is that we have never been better informed to know about that: www.givewell.org is all about effective altruism; Charity Navigator is the largest US independent charity evaluator; Charity Watch and Guidestar are other options.
If we are buying a car, we could scammed on Craigslist or Gumtree. So we do our homework, we sus people out and we may go to trusted brands (if car dealerships are really that 😉 ) But it wouldn’t be obvious for me to put the same level of effort into giving and working out what the best value options are. And yet the consequences, if we really value all lives, are far more important in giving than the choice of our car. I am not preaching, I am these questions myself and am wanting good answers to emerge.
I feel that sometimes the desirability of altruism can get undervalued in spiritual communities because it gets thrown out with examination of the super-ego. I should be better. I should help Africa. I should give more. I am not talking about that. I am not talking about guilt trips. I am not talking about self-flagellation. I am talking about whether, in deeper inquiry about who we share our planet with and as part of the global 1% (any of you earning more than $31k / year are in it) and with open hearts, how do we want to do this? [You may beway more elite than the global 1% 😉 – find out at www.globalrichlist.com]
Marianne Williamson got popularized when Mandela included her quote in a speech: ‘our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us’. In my experience, it’s not feel entirely true, I think I have been way more in touch with my light and power than my darkness most my life. But there’s truth in her message and when it comes to solving global problems, many of us feel impotent. Our money, though, has so much more power in poorer parts of the world. You, just a little individual, can save a life for a few hundred dollars through strategic giving. Or for $50 you can save someone from blindness. Tell me that isn’t power.
It’s time for us really to lean into what world we want to create as we move even more collectively into the age of co-creation. If you really value all life, don’t think the systems can’t be changed to have that more fairness more reflected. Yes, they are always established elites. But, globally, that is us. Those of us who earn more than $31k / year. We are the elite. Especially if we are doing inner work or personal growth work. You are the financial elite. The spiritual elite. The emotional elite. The real 1%?
How do we want to use that power?