Monday, January 17, 2011

The Fierce Urgency of Now

On this date to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr., I quote the following made nearly 50 years ago:
"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late."

And there is this quote from Frederick Douglas over a century before Dr. King: "If there is no struggle, there is no progress." 

The two men could have been embodied in one soul but it only made sense that they lived in different eras and inspired their own generations. More importantly, they used their words as an integrated part of their actions. Rather than mere political rhetoric or scalding editorials, both Dr. King and Frederick Douglas sought resolution through direct action. Words, as that children's rhyme goes, won't break anyone's bones. But executing a physical act will break the back of oppression. Action will serve in complement to the verbage. One without the other is weak and misunderstood at best. 

A small group of you has not finished your GPS so this is especially important for you to consider in moving forward. For the rest of you, please keep in mind that this is a road less traveled with plenty of bumps. But it is this journey that you'll probably find as the most rewarding of all. In the end, what we learn needs to be distributed to our children, to our friends and all those who live without their own answers. 

Make no mistake, Urban FIRE is about economic justice. Our brand of entrepreneurship is the civil rights strategy of the 21st Century working with small groups of individuals. While we label our economic conditions as "recession," "deregulation," "inflation," and "adjustments," the majority of us continue to suffer - and when a larger sector of any society suffers, there's no way around calling it "oppression." Through our economic system based on 17th and 18th Century theories, the paradigm goes that there must be various classes of people so that different people will perform all the necessary chores from menial to rocket science. So that we don't see through the dark side of this charade, there has been a centuries-old strategy called "Divide and Conquer" which keeps us from uniting and sometimes, even fighting each other while our real manipulator continues to thrive at our expense.   

We live in a society of Haves and Have-Nots. The latter is growing and no doubt, you're in Urban FIRE because deep inside you've wanted to change the course of where you've been and you're now seeking new direction. Whether you have considered your situation as temporarily poor, economically disadvantaged or socially denied, we tend to allow our conditions to persist because, frankly, when you get use to a situation, it's easier to live with the familiarity than to fight it.

So change is hard, isn't it? You've made the first step into recognizing the need to change by enrolling in this class. You've lived within the status quo for a long time, perhaps a lifetime. You desire - as we all do - to live with dignity and sufficient means, but you've neither had the opportunity or the sustainability to make it happen for the long haul. 

So I'd like you to think of this class as an Introduction to Struggle - an organized method -  an instigation - of change even when I don't know what change needs to happen for you. Through the articles I assemble and the research that I present to you, your first step is gaining knowledge because as Malcolm X said, "The future belongs to those who prepare for it today." With this knowledge comes answers, but it only matters when you gather the experiences and knowledge of your own life to make it relevant to you. This is when you'll be able to define your own change. That's why it's imperative that you spend time now to fill out your GPS. Yep, it can be emotionally draining. 

I make Urban FIRE challenging because building upon your sustainability is hard work - but the right thing to strive for. What I ask for is fully do-able and within the means of us all. Whatever reason you have for not submitting your GPS or in not reading through the assignments is not acceptable. Your choices are clear: continue the way you've always operated and stay where you're at or take the challenge to struggle and get your answers. Remember: failure is not an option; it is mandatory. There is no success without your progressive mindset to embrace failure as a part of getting to your goal. 

So today, let's honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who fought for us at the risk of his own life. I know that we've all said, "I have a dream." Today is the day to deliver because tomorrow does not exist. Urban FIRE is do now.

With sincere desires for your prosperity, 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Entrepreneurship nor Humans Are Expected to be Perfect

For a supplement to your GPS, please check out this video on a TED talk given by Brene Brown. Give it a bit of time to warm up because what she does is build her case and concludes with a resounding bit of wisdom.