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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Sunday 12 February 2012

Breakfast of Charities

I started the week thinking about  DorsetCereals’ approach to ‘Life’s simple pleasures’.   Dorset Cereals strapline is about being ‘honest, tasty and real’.  It has a website that will even give you a screensaver offering a new simple pleasure each day. 

Being honest and real is an essential part of advantage thinking. 

So, let’s be real for just a moment - because there is a significant amount of dishonesty in the way our society approaches the role of charity, those being helped by charity, and those working within charity. After all, if we really wanted to solve the issues at stake, we wouldn’t invest huge amounts of money and time in creating and maintaining the problems as problems in the first place. Anyone who has studied the prison system will know that to be a fact.  Yet the posters and street collectors keep rattling the same messages for the pennies required to keep the whole game spinning round. Even the innovation of solutions can just become part of the way we avoid losing the optimism for social change.  How else could I keep going for 10 years and not actually acheive the vision of the organisation I'm working for? On a bad day, it can mean we perpetuate the injustice of the system within which we are working.  But more often than not it is about how we live our role - as individuals and charities - in the ‘real’ truth of human evolution, something we rarely ponder enough about.   
While it is clear that advantaged thinking is part of a movement to erode the cliff face of current humanity into a more sophisticated and fairer being, the process of change is a slow and continual one. I’m but a tiny molecule of change. Charity is sometimes about the dishonesty of investing in the problems to avoid thinking about the real solutions, because the ‘tasty’ bit requires a longer and deeper perspective on how humanity and social orders function across history.  It requires more ‘cathedral thinking’ than 'ego building'.  As a tiny molecule, I’ll admit to not having the strength to think about what the next generation can achieve; to losing my own honesty of who I am in the need to want to change life now, to end the suffering immediate to us.   But as a wiser molecule, I can also see beyond an individual brand or programme promising to transform the world, to know that what we are really about is chipping away at a wall in the human psyche until the divide between how we think about advantage and disadvantage finally collapses.
All of which seems a long way from a bowl of Dorset cereals.  But it isn’t. Life’s simple pleasures is also a reminder that the universe has certain simple rules.  And if Dorset cereals can create a community following the eating of breakfast products, then what on earth are we doing that we can't create a bigger  and deeper community that is honest about the talent potential of young people?   
We don't even have breakfast together.
It’s time for charity to get real.

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