A Brief Introduction

Endeavoring to define myself outside of a "job title." I'm a nomad of sorts who fell in love with technology, activism, and helping others. I run a web & media consulting firm, have a blog specifically for activists & non-profits, and travel often. I love talking about theology, politics, and social change. I love doing something about it even more. I also like to be a well-rounded and fully present person. That's why I write here. Connect with me on twitter

Saturday, August 16, 2008

My MacBook Makes Me Rich

When I saw a video documenting a radical sharing of wealth outside of the New York Stock Exchange, I began to think and investigate wealth and income in America and the world.

A BBC article and study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research report that the wealthiest 2% of the world control over half of global wealth; in contrast, the poor half of the world has barely 1% of the world's wealth. In a discussion over at OmniNerd, one commenter said,

So if the top 2% own 50% of all household wealth and the poorer bottom half owe 1%, that only leaves 49% for teacher and government employees.
Another noticed,
That's actually an interesting way of looking at the numbers in this study. If 2% own 50%, and 50% own 1%, then it follows that the remaining 48% of the population owns 49% of the world's wealth. So, wealth distribution is actually pretty equitable for around 3.1 billion people, and that's not too bad, right?
Pointing out that numbers can often be spun for an agenda, this commenter is right in remarking that for just under half the population--the upper half of the population, excluding the elite rich--wealth distribution is "even." I got to wondering though, is this 48% of the world really "teachers and government employees" as the first commenter suggested?

Cue Global Rich List, a service developed by a company in the UK to assess your personal income in comparison to the rest of the world. I plugged in my entry-level salary (in television, granted) and found that I am in the richest 0.98% of the world. Some sleuthing found the calculations use data from 2003 & 1999 ... but still.

Am I an anomaly? According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income was $44,344... that would place you in the upper 1.98% of the world's wealthiest. The "average American" is, it seems, a part of the world's elite rich. AFT found that the average teacher salary was $47,602 in the 2004-05 school year. Teachers are among the world's uber-rich, not among the 48% of the world's population which has it's fair share of wealth. We are a part of the small group that controls 50% of the world's wealth. Wow.

When asked, "Why are you doing this?" the folks over at Global Rich List responded,
We are obsessed with wealth. But we gauge how rich we are by looking upwards at those who have more than us. This makes us feel poor.

We wanted to do something which would help people understand, in real terms, where they stand globally. And make us realise that in fact most of us (who are able to view this web page) are in the privileged minority.

We want people to feel rich. And give some of their extra money to a worthwhile charity.
MSN Money looks at the question of wealth a different way, assessing household wealth rather than income. Got $2,200? The computer you're reading this on is probably worth about that much. You're in the wealthiest half of the world. $61,000 worth of assets (cars, houses, possessions, savings, investments, etc) places you in the top 10% of the world. Phew.

What does this mean for me? I'm not really sure, but I know that I'm thankful.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We must change, for everything must change

It seems I'm on a video on a video kick these past few days. I picked up this vid over at Brian McLaren's blog. It was created from photos taken on the Everything Must Change tour. If there's one thing I took away most from this video it is that if everything must change, we must start changing. Take a look.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mercy. Beauty. Truth.

I'm honored to have met Jaradoa Theater co-founder April Nickell a few months ago. The theater company is founded to promote mercy, beauty, and truth through service and performance. Award winning writers, directors, designers, and actors have come together to create art and through their art create change. They work with elementary school students and 16-year-old inmates at Rikers. They put up professional shows, network with the community, and create opportunities for service and performance.

Look what they've been up to recently!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Finding the Impossible

In her statement for this year's Equality Ride, Haven Herrin says,

I wish everyone could experience the feeling of going where everyone told you it was not possible and finding nothing but hope and potential once you get there.
As she often does, Haven takes the words right out of my mouth. My time on the Equality Ride was one filled with tremendous hope and change. In the year since, I'm finding hope and potential all the time.

My parents, who in 2006 told me they weren't sure if they would come to my wedding are interested, ask, and even offer advice about who I'm dating (or not dating). Someone close to me who went to Trinity International for undergrad is finally able to love himself and come out to those around him. California takes its place in US history as the second state to open marriage to all individuals, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. My home state Maryland moves closer to marriage equality and my home county has put in place non-discrimination legislation that protects gender identity. And there's a gay couple on daytime soaps! We are blossoming.

I've been blessed with the friendship of another young man from my church who despite being homeless is always joyful and is working towards a full-time job and hopefully soon an apartment of his own.

I have seen my own faith--once starved by legalistic evangelicalism which held out daily Bible readings, church attendance, and alcohol consumption as the barometer of faith--flourish as I continue to discover what it means to follow Christ.

My friends have modeled how to have hope for themselves and to be hope for others. The news predicts doom, the nations plot war, the elders tell us we are naive but I've never been more certain of the power of good, of God, to rise in this world. And as I read and search, explore and discover, I find that I'm not alone in this feeling. The Simple Way and the Potter Street Community in Philadelphia, PA also journey to where others will not and also finding hope and possibility there. Take a look:

To support the Equality Ride, go here. To support The Simple Way, go here.

Want to do more than just give money? Email info@sfnyc.org to get involved with Soulforce locally here in New York (or to get connected with Soulforce in your area). Check out the "Practical Section" of the Simple Way site for things you can start doing yourself or visit Relational Tithe.

And then hurry back here to share your stories of where you're finding hope and possibility in unlikely places and what you're doing to foster that. I'm in serious fact-finding mode right now and am drinking up any stories you've got to share!

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's with the 'tude, dude?

Surfing around YouTube, I found this video with Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd, and Shane Claiborne. What strikes me is that though Shane does not come out and say "It's OK to be gay" his approach to the issue is strikingly different than Chuck Colson's, who immediately associates being gay with AIDS and then dismisses the observation that Christians are described as anti-gay above all else.

I feel drawn to hear more of Shane's thoughts, my stomach turned as Chuck carried on at the end of the video.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

More Voices From the Right

“[Amendment 2] could set us back...unnecessarily or could set us on the road to progress and equality because, although some proponents would like to phrase this debate as a gay versus straight issue, it is not that at all. We're talking about basic, fundamental rights that could be in jeopardy.” -- Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), on her opposition to amend Florida's constitution

Equality Wins

"The night I took the vote in June, I was told I would never be elected again. I'm running unopposed." -- New York Republican Assemblywoman, Teresa Sayward, on her vote for marriage equality

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Looking for an ethic of life

When young people die in war, it's only a soldier.

When civilians are killed in the crossfire, it's a cost of war.

When doctors kill unborn babies, it's only a fetus.

When governments execute adults, it's only a criminal.

When thousands of children die of hunger abroad, it's not a cost our taxpayers should shoulder.

When foreigners perish in genocide, it's not our place to intervene.

When humans are dying, when is it not our place to take a stand? Do we really value life?

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