Known to locals as 'Africa', a man with mental health issues he was gunned down today on the streets:
What came to mind immediately were the words of my late colleague who was living on the streets when we got together in 2003:
"Listen: these people are not going to go quietly into the night. Once a person is intentionally cast aside, all prevailing social contracts which might pertain no longer apply and all previous bets are off. It becomes self-defense for the intended victim.
Once a nation or government puts people in the position of defending their own lives, or that of family and friends, and they all will die if they do nothing about it, at that point all laws, social contracts and covenants end. Laws, social contracts and covenants define civilization. Without them, there is no civilization at all, there is only the law of the jungle: kill, or be killed. This is where we started, tens of thousands of years ago.
By leaving people in poverty, at risk of their lives due to lack of basic living essentials, we have stepped across the boundary of civilization. We have conceded that these people do not matter, are not important. Allowing them to starve to death, freeze to death, die from deprivation, or simply shooting them, is in the end exactly the same thing. Inflicting or allowing poverty on a group of people or an entire country is a formula for disaster."
The words had been directed at the US president of the time, Bill Clinton t
Some years later 2003, with a proof of concept project in Russia behind him, he reflected on his warning in an economic development proposal for Crimea:
"By leaving people in poverty, at risk of their lives due to lack of basic living essentials, we have stepped across the boundary of civilization. We have conceded that these people do not matter, are not important. Allowing them to starve to death, freeze to death, die from deprivation, or simply shooting them, is in the end exactly the same thing. Inflicting or allowing poverty on a group of people or an entire country is a formula for disaster.
These points were made to the President of the United States near the end of 1996. They were heard, appreciated and acted upon, but unfortunately, were not able to be addressed fully and quickly due primarily to political inertia. By way of September 11, 2001 attacks on the US out of Afghanistan – on which the US and the former Soviet Union both inflicted havoc, destruction, and certainly poverty – I rest my case. The tragedy was proof of all I warned about, but, was no more tragedy than that left behind to a people in an far corner of the world whom we thought did not matter and whom we thought were less important than ourselves.
We were wrong."
One could conclude that "Africa" had already been sentenced to death befor being dispatched by LAPD.
Today Clinton is a poverty celebrity, coming here to the UK last year to talk about Inclusive Capitalism
Later in 2003 it was his fastfor economic rights in Chapel Hill NC, that led to our introducing what we described as a profit for purpose business to the UK. As I've reported in the past, a Center on Poverty Work and Opportunity was later established there on the UNC campus. We learn from recent news that this center has recenrly been forced to close through pressure from Republican politicians.
it would be something of an understatement to say that our introduction to the social enterprise community wasn't met with a warm welcome. This time .
It was today of all days, that from the same social enterprise community came a suggestion that we should build organisations for good.
Like this, perhaps?
'Clearly, profits can be used very effectively in ways other than traditional investment and profit outcomes. Moreover, this is not charity, it is business--good business. One P-CED firm could be expected to spin off dozens of new firms and businesses, all of which create new jobs and all of which operate under traditional free-enterprise practices. That is, if a spin-off business were to profit a million dollars a year, the owners can bank the money for themselves and their stockholders as is the normal practice. There is nothing wrong with individuals becoming wealthy. It is only when wealth begins to concentrate in the hands of a relative few at the expense of billions of others who are denied even a small share of finite wealth that trouble starts and physical, human suffering begins. It does not have to be this way. Massive greed and consequent massive human misery and suffering do not have to be accepted as a givens, unavoidable, intractable, irresolvable. Just changing the way business is done, if only by a few companies, can change the flow of wealth, ease and eliminate poverty, and leave us all with something better to worry about. Basic human needs such as food and shelter are fundamental human rights; there are more than enough resources available to go around--if we can just figure out how to share. It cannot be "Me first, mine first"; rather, "Me, too" is more the order of the day.'
Today, the call for people-centered business, business which makes people and their needs at the centre of doing business may be hear from the Vatican, Cooperatives Europe and Fair Trade International and others applying profit for purpose.. Everywhere perhaps but in social enterprise.
it could also be said, that in censoring others efforts, one might just have well been the one who pulled the trigger. We experienced it when raising the issue of Death Camps for Children in Ukraine, all manner of self-interest was revealed, not least in journalism, with the BBC and Sunday Times both in denial, to scoop a story. .
When my late colleague met his own death in poverty, he left a prescient comment about social enterprise:
"Allowing that some people do not matter, as things are turning out, allows that other people do not matter and those cracks are widening to swallow up more and more people. Social enterprise is the first concerted effort in the Information Age to at least attempt to rectify that problem, if only because letting it get worse and worse threatens more and more of us. Growing numbers of people are coming to understand that “them” might equal “me.” Call it compassion, or call it enlightened and increasingly impassioned self-interest. Either way, we are all in this together, and we will each have to decide for ourselves what it means to ignore someone to death, or not."