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Dealing with Culture Shock

OPRAH, ANUS. ANUS, OPRAH.

So yeah, like I mentioned briefly in my previous post, I’m dealing with a bit of culture shock. Wow.

Admittedly, I decided to make things a bit harder for myself than it could have been. I decided to watch Oprah. The topic? Spoiled rich kids. The last time I saw a four year old, it was on the streets of Dhaka begging and crying for food. Now, I was watching a four year old with her own diamond studded earrings and several thousand dollars worth of Barbie dolls. I think I popped a blood vessel in my head watching that show.

As much as I’d like to go into a tirade about the excesses we have in this part of the world, part of dealing with this kind of culture shock is that you don’t want to become a self-righteous holier-than-thou jerk. We live in a part of the world where it is very easy to get caught up in a way of life that allows us to ignore the plight of others far away from us. But being caught up in this does not mean we’re bad, inconsiderate, selfish or greedy. What it means is that we’re human.

And as humans we can sometimes get caught up in bad habits. In order to break a bad habit, you have to at least admit to it. But ignoring the plight of the global poor isn’t the same as a bad habit like smoking. When you light up, you get scornful looks and pseudo-coughs from others reminding you of your bad habit. But ignoring the plight of the global poor is something all of us (myself included) are guilty of at one point or another while living in this part of the world.

It’s not opulence, it’s not ignorance, it’s not lack of consideration – it’s just a collective bad habit. And, like most bad habits, it’s one that (in the end) will end up hurting us.

The Count to One Million

Changing the Conversation is more than a slogan or rhetoric.

I know poverty alleviation will never take center stage on the internet. I know that on YouTube watching dramatic chipmunks, listening to chocolate rain (which I love), or hearing a (guy? girl?) cry about Britney Spears will always be more popular than watching videos about global poverty.

Heck, there are videos about Paris Hilton that are more viewed than every single poverty-related video on YouTube combined. That imbalance may never change – but that’s not the point.

I started this project because I believe people would be willing to be more involved, more concerned, and more interested in ending global poverty if we change how we talk about global poverty. For too long this message has been (mostly) dominated by those that make us feel pity for the poor, guilty about ourselves, and hopeless about solving this problem.

This project is my way of changing that.

In the coming months, the total number of video views of this project will cross one million. That will put this small project (run on a shoe-string budget, helped only by the kindness and generosity of others, and assisted along only by a meager handful of family members with big hearts) in the same league as some of the biggest and most powerful global advocacy organizations.

In fact, if this project crosses 1.5 million views, it will – as far as I can tell – be the most viewed global poverty related channel on all of YouTube – and possibly all of the internet.

Let’s change the conversation – the count to one million begins.