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Diann Rust-Tierney

Executive Director, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

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What will it take to move our nation and then the world to the place where we value and nurture people.

We pay a lot of lip service to the value of the individual or our investment in children as our future. But when you look at what we do there is a gap. We tolerate people and families living on the streets, we accept vast disparities in educational opportunities for children, we keep millions of people locked up and locked down in solitary confinement and we execute some.

I'm looking for concrete steps we can take to build a sense of commitment and connection that will allow us to be a healthier and more compassionate society. I have described the symptoms-- what can we do together to fix the real illness? How would you define it?


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    Jan 8 2014: Most people genuinely want to help others, they want to feed the hungry, eradicate poverty,etc.
    But they don't want to do anything because they see it as an unachievable goal. People are indifferent to the millions of people dying of hunger, disease etc. because they think that their individual contribution will not fix it completely.
    The first step would probably be to make seemingly impossible tasks like ending world hunger look like it can be done, which is in itself a very difficult thing to do.
    Throwing statistics at people will not work, people need to find a way to connect to a problem personally for them to care enough to do something about it.
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      Jan 8 2014: I think you are on to something there. When the problem feels too big ( the way this question started out maybe :)) You don't know where to start. And it seems hopeless. And you are right to point out that in policy debates, we tend to focus on trends and statistics to describe the problem. We often fail however to go back and dissect the problem into smaller pieces that can be acted upon by communities and then the individual.
      What would be the best way of doing this? Say the policy folks describe the problem and give us a sent of the magnitude. Do they then go back and dissect it? Find the leverage points for the problem to identify the bite-sized pieces that people can act on? Or do we try another approach is to take the problem to the community or neighborhood experiencing it and have them come up with steps that can be broken down.

      Or is it as simple as each of us taking responsibility for the people in our immediate sphere- -assuring their comfort and well being and supporting and encouraging others to do so as well. Would that get us to helping the person living on the street?
    • Jan 9 2014: Altruism shouldn't be motivated by goals such as ending world hunger or malaria or whatever. Helping people, knowing that you're making at least a few lives better, should be motivation enough.

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