Often we are asked about how it is possible to deal with particular issues.
For many, the journey into the world of positive impact is sparked by a feeling of needing to do something about a particular issue. Often people search for things to do based on these particular issues, rather than searching for the most appropriate way to help people in need of help. They are not guided towards the most appropriate way to help based on what they do the best and what is most needed by those seeking help.
This misdirection, taking the focus from effective help to particular issues, is exacerbated by the language that we use around these individual causes. The sector is constantly battling to promote issues as more important or more emotive than others, rather than focusing on the most important fundamental process;
Ensuring people in need, get the help that they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.
Disadvantage doesn’t have one look. It isn’t limited to one particular issue, it is a complex web of many different factors and manifestations, often overlapping and interlinked, nuanced and time dependent. In the same way treating a scratch early prevents it becoming septicaemia, dealing with issues of inequality early can prevent them becoming life-threatening and community destroying.
Working to fight disadvantage means working to level the playing field. At the Just Be Nice Project we believe that working towards an equality of opportunity for everyone is the only real way to build a system that helps anyone.
So if it’s not about any particular issue, what is it about?
Well, lets look at what disadvantage is. Among many things;
Disadvantage is having the collective noun for you and your friends go from group to pack in the media.
Disadvantage is having to share a white bread sandwich with vegemite three ways for lunch.
Disadvantage is time on the phone negotiating bill paying extensions with every, single, service provider.
Disadvantage is being kicked out of your rental property because you were late on the rent because someone ran into your car and you couldn’t afford to fix the car you need for work, and the whole rent this month.
Disadvantage is failing school because you are busy looking after your sick mum.
Disadvantage is having a disability and being unable to access the help you need. It is having the same disability and being unable to access the leisure and social activities we all need too.
Disadvantage is getting a bill from DHS for the damage that was done to your rental property when your husband put your head through the plasterboard wall.
Disadvantage is having Centrelink make an administrative error and not pay you for a fortnight, so that for two weeks you and your family are unable to eat.
Disadvantage is getting too sick to work and not having any sick leave because you are a casual employee, and disadvantage is the scramble over the next few years to pay back those credit cards and money you borrowed.
Disadvantage is having a mental illness, and nowhere to go.
Disadvantage is coming out of rehab and having nowhere to go. It’s the only place offered to you being a harm-minimisation facility where people still take drugs. It’s avoiding that place because you want to stay clean, so you sleep on the street, and get told “Surely anywhere is better than sleeping on the street.”, “Ungrateful”, “Sort your life out”.
Disadvantage is the kid in class who can’t concentrate, for years, because from the ages of 3-10 she doesn’t get sufficient breakfast or lunch and gets told she is dumb because she is ‘falling behind.’ By the teachers and ‘dumb’ by her peers.
Disadvantage is waking up in the middle of the night as a 10 year old and checking to make sure that your Dad isn’t beating up your Mum in the living room.
Disadvantage is all of these things, and many, many others. Disadvantage can strike people at any moment and some people are born into disadvantage. We believe that all people should have access to the help they need, when they need it, for as long as they need. We believe that it is possible to create extraordinary positive change in the world, by helping people make ordinary positive change, and we would love your support.
Just Be Nice
A collection of articles relevant to pursuing the effective execution of altruism in the search for equality of opportunity.