The World’s Most Pressing Issue

So, what is the most pressing issue in the world?

First, have a look at these problems you may be more familiar with.

Now I have six questions about your computer. Try to answer these quickly in your head (I put my answers in brackets as sample answers; if you don’t know the answer, just keep reading):

  1. How old is your computer/when did you get it?    [November]
  2. What brand is it?    [ASUS]
  3. What’s its operating system?    [Windows 7]
  4. How much did it cost?    [~$500 w/Cyber Monday deal]
  5. How fast is it/what processor does it have?    [4gb RAM (DDR3) w/ second gen i5, so pretty fast, but not the fastest out there]
  6. What are your favorite things about it?    [great processing and multitasking, not too big, not too small, good graphics and audio, didn’t come preloaded with too much junk-ware]
  7. What is something it can’t do/what do you dislike about it?    [camera stinks, a few GUI features I don’t like that I still don’t know how to get rid of]

Buying a computer is a different experience for everyone.  Some people walk into Best Buy and walk out with a new computer an hour later.  Their purchase decision is based on a whim, sometimes the “prettiness” of the device is the biggest factor.  We call them luddites. On the other hand, some people consistently browse various retailers and websites.  They know which brands specialize and excel in the features they like, as well as which brands consistently deliver poor products.  They want speed and power that matches their functional needs and budgets; they seek reviews and opinions on the products they are considering.  They know a good deal when they see it and scowl at bogus extras and warranties offered by salesmen and website popups.  They end up getting a computer that’s great for their needs without breaking the bank.  We often refer to them as “tech savvy.”

So, where do you lie on the spectrum between the luddites and the tech savvy?  And how does this relate to the world’s greatest issue?  I’ll tell you… after you answer these next questions (same deal as last time – no looking stuff up, just what you remember off the top of your head):

  1. When is the last time you made a charitable donation (volunteering counts)?  [November… I’m thinking aside from giving to my church]
  2. What was the organization?   [The Academy for Creating Enterprise]
  3. Do you remember how much you gave?    [Yes… xD ]
  4. What is their purpose/cause?    [Help “necessity entrepreneurs” learn to successfully run their own business]
  5. How effective are they at creating impact for their purpose?   [After three years, graduates employ ~3-4 people on average; they often create franchises and get themselves and their families out of poverty; I also know their curriculum has been used by others; I would guess the Academy creates employment for ~700-2100 people a year]
  6. What are your favorite things about the organization?    [strong impact, solid curriculum, great purpose, and lots of stories/studies to back it all up]
  7. What is something it can’t do/what do you dislike about it?    [They only have one or two schools and only teach “RMs” – I would love to see them scale out and welcome all people]

Like buying a computer, giving is a different experience for everyone.  Some people give a small amount when asked by a relative or colleague of some sort, then they never think about it again.  They are apathetic givers.  Some people do not give so candidly – they keep themselves aware of the various efforts being made for the causes they care about.  They know the different organizations working in the space of their concern and which ones are the best at creating real impact.  They want effectiveness and efficiency from the organization they choose to give to; they search out third party opinions and research.  They know a good organization and how and when to give to it.  They end up giving and understanding exactly how their money or time was used.  After doing so, they continue to have interest in the success of the organization.  They are the true investors; they’ve made a conscious decision to care about something greater than themselves, and to give in meaningful ways.  In essence, they “do good better.”

Where do you lie on the spectrum of apathetic giving to true investment?  Let me make some final comments:

If all the luddites made a shift toward being more tech savvy, many computer models and some brands would perish.  The reason these perishing types would cease to exist is because low quality would no longer be acceptable in the industry.

If all the apathetic givers made a sift toward being more caring in their giving, many fundraisers and some charities would perish.  The reason these perishing types would cease to exist is because low quality would no longer be acceptable for anyone to donate to.  Additionally, and more powerfully, the additional care for the great problems and causes of the world, such as poverty and equality of accessibility, would become much more integral in our daily living.  The outlooks for these issues would be met with more optimism and permanent progress would be inevitable.  I did not mention those who don’t give at all because I believe that those who already give must first become caring enough.

For the biggest problems in the world to be solved, enough people must stop giving with apathy and become true investors.  I propose that apathy is the world’s most pressing issue.