Sunrise. #nofilter

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Words are not necessary sometimes.

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Poverty

I posed a question on Facebook: “Why do you think there is so much poverty in our country?” I received a few responses from my friends. The responses covered the spectrum. One friend said it was a leading question. He argued that the question assumes there is poverty in this country. He is right. I assumed there is poverty. However, my assumption can be backed up with facts. I want to know why poverty exists. In knowing that, I believe we can find a way to combat it. That is what this blog post will address.

By definition poverty is “the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor.” Poverty is tied to economic standing. The definition does not explain why there is poverty. It describes what poverty is. If you were to look at the human condition in some of what are described as the poorest communities in our country, you would see poverty as defined in living color. But why?

I believe that poverty is a condition that results from the combination of a lack of individual character and how the economic infrastructure is built. An individual’s character informs the life choices s/he makes. These choices will directly impact their economic standing. That is the underlying opinion in this article from Bob Lonsberry.

Yet, individual character does not account for all of the reasons there is poverty. There has to be an economic component that factors in. This quote from a Huffingtonpost.com story entitled Richest 1 Percent to Own Half of the World’s Wealth by 2016, Oxfam finds captures the idea pretty well:

Drill down the numbers even more and you’ll learn that the 80 wealthiest people in the world possess $1.9 trillion, which is almost the same amount shared by some 3.5 billion people at the bottom half of the world’s income scale.

Those who are capable of earning the money should be able to. It is called opportunity. Yet, there is something that comes with amassing money and resources in the way Oxfam points out – Power. The power that allows certain people to dictate policy that will give them greater opportunity to amass more money and resources. In other words, the rich get richer and poverty begets poverty.

Is this the way things should be? No.

Is this the way things are? Yes.

How does it change? Incrementally and through the strength of individuals to stand up to the status quo and provide solutions through new ideas. Hopefully, the new task force announced by Lt. Governor Hochul in Rochester, NY will be an example for success. If it isn’t, then it is possible that changing the human condition may never happen.

The Pitch

the pitch posterI’ve started watching past episodes of AMC’s The Pitch on Netflix. As a person who loves commercials and works in the Public Relations and MarComm industry, this reality show is right in my wheelhouse.

Watching has given me a new understanding of the world of ad agencies. It has also given me a new perspective on the group creative process. My eyes are opened to how we come to believe in an idea or concept and then work to get others to buy into it.

It has shown me that brands need to ask “What do we believe in?” and “How do we align what we believe in and our vision with a higher power?”

The answers will lead the way to increased customers. Or so the thought goes. To help brands get to the promised land, they enlist the help of ad agencies. Hence, pitting two ad agencies against one another to win the client’s business – the premise of The Pitch.

It works only if the ad agency can understand what the brand is looking for. The agency must come up with a focused idea that can be pitched. Essentially, the ad agency must believe what the brand believes. Without this, there can be no working relationship.

It is of the utmost importance to knowing the audience to be a successful communicator/advertiser/marketer/business. Anyone who makes a living pitching knows how true this is. They also know what they believe. They know how to make you believe it, too.

Fact or Fiction, I Don’t Remember

coffeeI don’t remember taking that first sip of the richly aromatic dark brew coffee. Was it at an outdoor café table in Plaza de Mayor, Madrid or was it out of the drip coffeemaker sitting on the kitchen counter? It was an earthy smell. It had hints of spice and a bite to it when it touched my lips and tongue. What kind of cup did I drink it from? Was it a white paper cup with a cardboard sleeve? Or maybe it was a dark blue or brown ceramic mug. I don’t remember. It was delightful, though. At least I can remember that.

***

I don’t remember college. I mean, I do remember college, but I don’t remember everything about college. I don’t remember what happened that night after I drank the three or four shots of Aftershock. There might have been a picture or two. I don’t remember. I also don’t remember sitting in my first college class. I’m not sure if it was evolutionary biology or intro to philosophy. I remember the hall was large and the professor was small when viewed from up high, but I don’t remember anything else. Then it was time to go. I remember that. I don’t remember loving the room that they put me in at the dorm. I have images of what the room looked like after I decorated it with posters and the like. That room I liked. Prior to that, though nothing holds my attention. It all went too fast and as a result the memories, if there are any, are blurry at best.

***

I don’t remember crying when I heard the news of my father’s passing. I closed my eyes. I held my forehead. But I do not remember crying. The tears never came. There was no sadness. I never knew the man. I don’t remember going to the park and playing ball with him. I don’t remember him pushing me on the swings. I don’t remember him being at my birthday parties. I don’t remember him. So, when he left this earth, I had no memories to hold on to.

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I remember

fair havenI remember the day that we went to Fair Haven. The sun was shining. It was a beautiful summer day. The wind was blowing. It made the waves rise to heights over our heads. We jumped into the lake and let the waves crash over us and push us back to shore. It was a great day. The sand felt warm between our toes. But it was the wind that made that day because it made the waves. I remember the waves. The power of the waves was spectacular. I had never experienced it before and haven’t experienced it since. The motion of the waves and the sounds they made as they crashed against the shore are as vivid today as they were then. The waves. That is what I remember the most about that day.

***

I remember the way she looked as she walked down the aisle. I remember being scared and excited at the same time. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. In a few moments she would be my wife, but now, as she walked down the aisle she was the one who captured my heart. A smile came across my face as in that moment I remembered the first date. We walked around he town at night and sat on the bench outside the town hall. We talked about what we liked and what we didn’t. We discussed music. She smiled. I smiled. We walked some more. Then there were the flowers. I remember bringing her flowers. She knew I was bringing them because her aunt had called to ask if the boy bringing flowers was coming to her house. No surprises. But the kiss was amazing. She was standing on the step. It was the only way she would be tall enough to match my height. It was sweet. It was the last first kiss I would have. I was abundantly okay with that. I remember how her eyes sparkled. How she smiled at me as I left. I walked home on air and it was the best feeling. That was the feeling I remember having that day when I said, “I do.” Being on air. Being light-headed. Smiling from ear to ear. My face hurt after the formal photos I had smiled so much. I remember that day.

***

I remember seeing The Matrix in the movie theatre. It blew my mind. I was majoring in philosophy in college at the movie just brought to life the brain in the vat philosophical question. I was intrigued by how the movie made us believe there was a world that we lived in and then there was a real world that was destroyed and ruled by machines where humans were exiles and hunted. It was the brain waves they wanted to power themselves. Some how, some way the machines figured out how to use humans as batteries and how to compel us to go along with it by plugging us into a mainframe world. What is real? And when you find out what is real versus what is created by the Matrix, which would you choose. It is a question of imagination versus reality. I remember thinking I would certainly follow Neo into what is real. But looking back, I am not so sure. Do I need to fight a machine? Do I want to trade in the life I believe I live for some post-apocalyptic vast emptiness where my I question my memories at every turn? I remember thinking I loved the movie. I still do. I love the way it makes me think.

***

I remember the sunset out the plane’s window. We were flying down into Madrid and the sun was going down with us. It was vibrant. It was majestic. It signaled the ending of one phase of life. On the other side, when it rose the next day, a new phase would begin. Looking out the window, I saw the land below coming up faster and faster. Life was changing for me. I remember thinking that I’m in a new place with new people. I can be who I am and include the various experiences in making me who I want to be. I remember thinking that this will be such an awesome adventure. It was.

***

Diving In

diving inBear grizzly adams running down the long dirt road into the forest. He didn’t know what he was going to do but he knew that he had to do it. The bear that he was named after was about to die. It was a terrible thing that he could not fathom living through. He was tired and couldn’t go farther, but he had to. He knew that the bear needed him. He needed the bear. What was it about the animal that made him want to do anything, everything that he could do to save the bear? He didn’t know. Then he looked up. There was a woman that was watching him from a cabin high on the hill. She admired his muscular frame and flowing locks. He admired her blonde hair and blue eyes. He also admired her cabin. He had lived in a cave for so long that he forgot what it was like to live in a house. The fire the warmth. The food the kitchen. It all reminded him of home. He never would have come after the bear if he knew that she would be there. There was nothing he could do. He now was tired and emotional. He was worried and afraid all at the same time. He left his hands dry and his feet wet. They made him feel comfortable that way. He never saw anything like it but he knew she would know what to do. She smiled at him from the balcony and then went into the house. She began cooking meat and biscuits for breakfast. The smell filled his nostrils and he was drawn to it and away from the bear. A large stone rolled into the foyer of the house. How did it get there? He didn’t know but he tried to move it. He pulled a muscle in his back. He was getting older and it showed. But he was as good once as he ever was, or at least that was what he had heard once in a song on the radio. He went up the stairs and into her kitchen. She was at the table. She was naked. He was hungry. She winked at him and then licked a biscuit crumb from her mouth. Animal nature took over. He forgot about the bear and became the bear.