Monday, January 9, 2012

It’s a hard life wherever you go

Borrowing the title above from Nanci Griffith’s 1989 song by the same name. The song’s theme is children; their chances, how hatred’s a poison to them, how they need places to go. Songs like this make us think. Songwriters have a nice way of transforming observations into poetry and melody that capture a time and stretch that time into posterity. They’re backseat drivers in a very good way.

The song’s title is a stark, very real, assessment twenty-two years later. Nanci’s assessment comes with no solutions, however. But that was not her intention, I believe. One’s definition of hard depends upon one’s experience. In America, we’re confronted with statistics full of averages and economic indicators, interest rates that may interest us or not, education numbers; those quantitative bits of information that influence real estate values, tax rates.

Sometimes we use our American numbers as we gaze about the world. We can learn how where 20% better off financially than the Germans. We can conclude that the continent of Africa earns 1% of the world’s profits. We can calculate barrels of oil per day of production and American consumption. But all these numbers do not tell a complete story and besides, it’s boring.

We could begin to look to the children, however. Their story tells a great deal if we listen carefully. Some of our hard life issues deserve study and discussion from a children’s perspective. For example, all of that delicious Ethiopian coffee some of us crave comes from regions of extreme poverty, like in Sidamo. We may pay dearly for an 8oz cup; dearer still for a one pound bag of pedigree Sidamo beans ($15 per pound or more). Many children in the region receive international nutritional aid based upon their bodyweight. Reel your lens back to our own backyard, though. There are children in poverty right here in River City. Not many schools in Sidamo province. Our Kansas City Schools have problems.

You’re really good at fusing information and coming to conclusions. You gather your news from multiple sources if you’re reading here on the screen. It’s a quick click from Ethiopia to Missouri.

We have multiple, important frames of reference to frame our perspectives, analyses, and opinions. But one frame deserves more of our attention. We should consider making our solution efforts children-centric. It’s a great place to start for many reasons. In fact, many of you live that way now. Those busy giving care, probably don’t have the time to read this.

Our news is issues-based. We parse everything these days because the parsing is easy, and marketing loves the niche. We quantify, measure, calculate, and balance the best we can. Children are not an issue to parse, however. They have much to teach us if we watch and listen.

“I’m a backseat driver from America…”

1 comment:

  1. so many spokes in this wheel - it's hard to know which way to go first.