Nov 10

Solving the Digital Divide is a Matter of Security

Today was surreal.

My mother was an English teacher, and now in her retirement, she helps men who are studying theology with their theses. One of these men is in Zambia. His name is Jean Renee Talbo and he lives in a place called Lusaka. He and my mother email each other back and forth regarding his writing. I told my mother I was interested in corresponding with Jean Renee, because heck, I’ve never met a person from Zambia and I figured it would be neat.

Jean Renee is a very kind priest who helps the village. He is concerned because the tractor they use to get goods in and out of the village is out of commission. I might be able to find him bikes, but bikes really aren’t useful during the rainy season. They need $4,000 for the repair.

Today I went to Jonas Lamis’s presentation “Brains, Bots, and Bodies” today at the Texas Union. I learned about technology that will semi-automate driving. I learned about search engines that don’t search–they do. There was talk of fighting off aging and artificial intelligence.

Such a stark contrast in ideas is just really hard to compute for a person in a day.

People often tell me “You have such a big heart” and tell me I should care more about myself. Here is my point–even Colin Powell acknowledges that the war on poverty is a matter of national security. When you have a world of haves, and a war of have-nots, and a network of people who prey on the insecurities of the have-nots to steal from the haves, being kind suddenly isn’t a matter of just feeling good. Acknowledging the fact that the poor even exist is a matter of security. By forging a mutually beneficial relationship with those less fortunate than ourselves, we 1.) help them gain useful skills, and 2.) gain a network of people whose best interests will tell them that we need to be protected. So we give a little, but we get a lot.

This concept doesn’t just apply to countries. It applies to us as business professionals and as individuals. Trust me, if you can help the problems of the least of these, helping those who are better off is a piece of cake.

So does anyone have money for a tractor?