Our activism is not neutral. We come to it with beliefs which impact our effectiveness.
Here Werner looks at the assumption that food is scarce and therefore some will eat and some will not. He shows that hunger persists in the world not as a function of scarcity.
But believing in scarcity and approaching an end to starvation is like dismounting a trampouline on which we’ve been doing somersaults and attempting to do the same somersaults from a concrete floor. There’s no lift.
Werner Erhard, The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come. 1977, at http://www.wernererhard.net/thpsource.html
Start by Examining the Examiner
The first step in examining any problem is to examine the system with which you are going, to examine the problem. For example, there are equations in physics that would be incomplete if they didn’t take into consideration the nature and consequent effect of the observer.
So, before you and I begin to examine the problem of hunger and starvation, we are going to examine our own nature and the effect of that nature on our perceptions and understanding of the problem. Until we understand ourselves, we won’t know the quality of our findings, or how those findings are influenced by the entity making the examination.
I am not an expert on hunger and starvation. The little bit of knowledge I’ve acquired in four years of study is small compared to the knowledge of the true experts in the field. But as a result of my interaction with tens of thousands of people, I do have some insight into Self (my Self, your Self, the Self) and a certain expertise about what a “me” is. I want to take a look with you at what a “me” is with respect to hunger.
Look inside yourself (not at what you think or what you feel, not at your opinions or your point of view) but at the ground of being that gives rise to your actions, thoughts, and feelings. Look specifically at the unconscious, unexamined assumptions and beliefs which limit and shape our response to hunger and starvation. This is the territory we are going to cross.
The Assumption of Scarcity
The very first component you see in the structure of beliefs through which we perceive the world is the component of scarcity. Human beings don’t necessarily think that things are scarce. They always think from a condition of scarcity.
For instance, while you and I might never have had the thought, “Love is scarce,” it is obvious if we examine our behavior that we are “coming from” scarcity with respect to love. We often act as if we must dole it out carefully and only to those people who deserve it. Also, because we assume that everything of value in life is scarce, we act to protect things (regardless of how much we actually have) because they are “scarce.”
Time is also an example. It is something else that people consider to be desperately scarce. No one ever has enough time. Watch yourself when you do have enough time and you will notice that you act as if you don’t have enough. I am not saying that you think 15 million of us die each year as a consequence of hunger because food is scarce. I am saying that scarcity is one component of the structure of beliefs through which we perceive the world.
It is worthless to know that your ground of being contains the belief that things are scarce if you know it merely because you have been told it or because it makes sense. You need to know it as a result of looking inside yourself and actually seeing how the belief in scarcity shapes your thoughts and actions. Pierce into your own system of beliefs and observe that you do believe in scarcity. While confronting this belief, get that it is not true that hunger and starvation persist on this planet because food is scarce.
Just as an example (not as a suggested solution to the problem of hunger) we could feed all the hungry people in the world every year with the grain fit for human consumption that is fed to cattle in the United States. I’m not suggesting that if we stopped feeding grain to our cattle we would eliminate hunger. I’m just saying that the notion that 15 million of us die each year because of a scarcity of food is not accurate.
(To be continued tomorrow)