Monday, April 14, 2014

Inward-to-Outward Focus

One thing that continues to amaze me is how different things could be if we changed our [individual, and [various levels of] collective] focus. Right now, we are too focused on trying to fix (or give the appearance of fixing) everyone else, with the further away the better.

If we reorder our focus, many things could be improved, including the lives of those further away.  Focus first on the self, you can't help anyone (at least well) if you are in lacking in that area yourself. Then your family, your neighbors, your local community, your city, your greater local community/county, your state, your nation, and then finally, those in other nations.

Different levels of assistance can be at different stages depending on needs and what's covered; for instance, we're pretty good on fresh+clean water in most of the country, so we can assist other countries with getting fresh+clean water.  Food, on the other hand is a little different. We have people that will donate money to purchase food for other countries (too much of which never makes it to the people who need it) while their neighbors are living on ramen noodles and peanut butter.

If you want to feed the hungry, reduce your spending, increase your health, increase your happiness, and improve the environment, then grow a garden. By doing so, you remove your demand on the food supply systems, increasing supply and lowering costs for those who need it. Additionally, you will have surplus you can give to neighbors or the local community. By producing your own food, you lower the cost of feeding yourselves and potentially gain an income. Food is never better for you than when it is harvested and consumed at it's peak; by growing your food, you increase your nutritional intake greatly. Further, gardening can be a constructive, stress-relieving activity, increasing psychological health and happiness. Finally, growing plants is beneficial to the earth, especially if done so with keeping care of the earth in mind.

When it comes to finances, this inward-to-outward approach is even more critical, especially in our modern money-centric society. If you are in debt to your eyeballs, you can't help anyone financially, at least not in any significant manner. Once you've squared yourself and your family away, focus on the local community. The less is needed at one level, the less of a burden it places on the level containing it. For instance, if your city/community has few demands on it, then it can begin paying off it's own debt, as well as planning for more solid investments (for instance, being able to pay the extra money for park equipment that will last 25 years as opposed to 10). It also places a lesser financial burden on the county at large.  As the county approaches a similar position, it has the same effect on the state.

The best thing about this method is that it only requires individual action. It coerces no one. If you grow a garden and pay off your debts, you improve the lives of those around you, even if they make different choices. You begin to lead by example, and can share your methods (as well as produce, or surplus funds) with others without worry of negative impact on your life.

There is no downside.

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