More Deaths than Tobacco

A study from the British Medical Journal found that income inequality leads to 883,914 unnecessary deaths in the United States each year.

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Re-evaluating Priorities

24 March 2014

written by Allyssa Milán

Re-evaluating my priorities. Recognizing for the 5 millionth time that I can only give so much without depleting myself. Trying to be aware of how much time, attention, and energy I give to those who don’t give to me in return. Still learning. Grateful that I am not completely debilitated by anxiety and depression the way I used to be. Wondering if these mental health terms help me better understand myself and my history or make me feel ashamed of my own nature.

Praying for mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness–for myself and others. Still realizing I have a long road to walk, and that some moments and days and weeks will be more painful than others, but I will be ok–just as I have always been. Forgiving myself for mistakes and broken promises. Trying to move past the guilt I feel not being able to message/email/meet/call/text/respond to all the people who reach out to me.

Remembering how strong I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Trying to be gentle with myself–the way I am with others. Finding that difficult at the moment. Happy to have a couple of people in my life who know when to kick my ass and when to be gentle with me. Wishing more people could learn how to love and care for one another. Remembering that I have a deep inner worth that is unwavering and unaffected by anything I do or don’t do.

Trying to distinguish between what’s actually best for me and what other people want of/for me. Trying really hard to not take on other people’s pain. Somehow still seeing my sensitivity as a gift. Thinking perhaps this is, at least in part, a form of self-preservation. Grateful to have made it thus far. Grateful for people who care. Hoping to attract and receive more wise and nurturing feminine energy in my life. Hoping to attract more money into my life. Still struggling to cultivate a positive relationship with money and to see my own monetary worth. Making progress.

Feeling sad about the state of the world. Hoping to help heal it in the best ways I know how each day. Hoping I am soon able to better support myself so as to write what’s in my soul. Trying to figure out how I can possibly support myself by writing what’s in my soul. Hurting because there’s so much I’m dying to say…

Looking forward to the day I can afford a more ergonomic computer/desk set up to reduce my arm/wrist/hand/finger pain and numbness, which limits what I can do. Regretting the years of typing/writing so much in an unsustainable and unhealthy way.

Remembering that all the countless people who tell me I need to write a book/who ask when my TED talk will happen/who ask when I’ll be running my own non-profit organization/who tell me I’m going to change the world don’t actually see what goes on in my life and mind on a day-to-day basis, and what obstacles I face. Will keep moving in the direction of my dreams anyway, no matter how long it takes.

Breathing. Taking one step, one moment at time. Needing a temporary escape. Needing kindness. Needing an actual, real, let-me-just-cry-here-in-your-arms-for-a-moment-and-not-have-you-think-any-less-of-me kind of hug…

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Poverty Infographic

21 March 2014

Someone sent me this informative infographic earlier:

Poverty Infographic

What do you think?

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There are many charities that work towards solving hunger issues in Africa by donating not only to provide ready-made food but also to provide resources to farmers and people with experience in agriculture to grow crops to feed local populations. There are certain crops that grow well in Africa and types of plants which are much easier to grow in these harsh climates. By giving farmers and community members education as well as the seeds and tools that they need to create agricultural opportunities in communities within Africa, charities like the Red Cross, UNICEF and others are creating opportunities in African communities to create ongoing food production.

One of the biggest barriers to an ongoing agricultural supply line in Africa is barriers that are put in place on regional and intercountry trade. It isn’t as simple as we find it in North America for African communities to trade amongst one another in order to get the resources that they need. With intense droughts and shortages on water in some areas as well as harmful insects and other challenges that face agricultural communities, trade needs to happen in order for communities to self sustain and get the supplies that they need to succeed. As such the UN and African Union is strongly lobbying to remove some of these barriers to allow communities across Africa the chance that they need to trade amongst one another and boost agriculture as a whole to create self-sustaining communities.

A second major factor that contributes to the distribution of food and trade involves the roads and transportation across Africa. With so many poor roads and unsafe roads, charities may need to look into the future at increasing security as well as improving overall road conditions to allow for distribution and better imports and exports all over the continent. Currently the transport costs and logistics of transporting food and agricultural produce across Africa is very difficult to contend with and until changes are made communities will be left under the some of the transport cartels which are in power and in charge of imports and exports for communities.

With a big focus on education, providing resources, opening up borders and improving road conditions and road safety, charities can disburse their money not only to provide immediate relief but also provide relief in a format that will create self-sustaining communities, allowing charities to make an impact across other areas of Africa.


Joelle O’Reilly-Hyland is a member of the advisory board of Ubuntu Africa, a non profit organization that helps HIV children in Africa. Together with her husband, Paul, Joelle O’Reilly-Hyland started a triathlon team to raise more than $100K for Ubuntu. She is also an active supporter of many other education and womens’ rights based organizations like Educate Girls Globally. Joelle is named top professional women of the year by Worldwide Who’s Who magazine. Joelle and Paul live in Manhattan, NY with their three children, Oliver, Ogden, and Louisa. Follow Joelle O’Reilly-Hyland on Twitter.

 | Posted by | Categories: Aid Reform |

A recent Huffington Post article reports that Low-Wage Workers Are Robbed More Than Banks, Gas Stations And Convenience Stores Combined. Studies reveal that most employees have some of their pay illegally withheld. Three times more money is lost due to wage theft than gas-station and convenience-store robberies. About a couple hundred million dollars of wage theft is caught per year, and much more presumably goes uncaught.

I think that is all very interesting. However, I think it misses the root issue. In a world where an entire class of people have been turned into wage slaves through more fundamental oppression like unequal ownership/access to natural resources, the violent theft has already occurred and the victims will unfairly suffer in, near or under the threat of poverty regardless of minimum wage or overtime laws. I think that’s like bickering over how many band-aids to give a stabbing victim.

What do you think?

 | Posted by | Categories: American Poverty |

Unhappy and Unsatisfied

17 October 2013

It’s been a long time since I posted regularly on this website. So I want to come back to it by telling you a little bit about how I feel

I am sad, and I don’t deserve to be so sad. I am lonely and scared, and I don’t deserve to be so lonely and scared. I’m just unhappy, and I don’t think I deserve it.

I thought I was happy for a little while. But somewhere along the way I lost that happiness that I had. I don’t know how. I suppose it was probably me. When we finally get what we think we want, do we take it for granted and loosen our grip and watch it slip away? Or in some perhaps subconscious flight do we chase happiness away to get back to the familiar grounds of stable despair that we carry from childhood? I don’t know. A lot goes on beneath the empty smile.

I don’t think I will ever be happy. I feel like I deserve to be happy, but I guess I just will never get what I deserve. I sort of want to give up on getting what I deserve I suppose. But in that emptiness I realize I can try to make other people happy. I don’t think making some other happy will make me fundamentally happy or satisfy me. I still want to do it though.

Even if I’m not happy with the plate of food in front of me, I can feed someone who is hungry. Even if my clothes don’t make me happy, I can clothe those that need clothes. A house of my own may not be the oasis of escape and happiness so often dreamed, but I can give shelter to the homeless.

I want to provide clean water and hospitals to those that are sick. I want food for the hungry, and homes for the homeless. I want jobs for the unemployed. I want freedom for those imprisoned. I want peace for the war-torn families shaking in fear that they may end up in tomorrow’s statistics of collateral damage.

I guess I’ve learned that I don’t need to be the strongest person to be able to help others or to try to make other people happy. I don’t need to be the richest or most powerful to spread happiness. I don’t need personal or financial success to treat the world in a loving way. Mainly I think I don’t need to be happy to give happiness to others.

Amassing ridiculous financial wealth or fame or popularity or career-success has never interested me much. I have always felt like an outsider among those possessing or headed for some kind of common version of success and only at home among the wayward or rebellious. My family and my children are the only things that have really kept me grounded. I love them; I do. Maybe I would be homeless or in prison myself if I didn’t need to feed my kids or want to spoil my wife in my middle-class way. But as hard as it is to say, even my family hasn’t made me happy or satisfied, instead perhaps conflicted but indeed grounded.

I suppose I am gracious that I seem unable to achieve some kind of complacent satisfaction or happiness. What kind of sick person could be happy or satisfied in this world?! This world in which children starve by the thousands each day? In which billions live in absurd poverty? In which homes sit vacant next to the homeless and food sits expiring on shelves down the street from the starving? In which millions of nonviolent people rot in prisons for twisted political and financial reasons, marijuana possessors for instance? In which millions if not billions want jobs but are denied them. In which millions or billions of people including children want education but are denied? In which oil wars and racism and misplaced hate and violent destructive profiteering plague all? A world in which there is more than enough food to feed the hungry and more than enough resources to provide food, clothes, clean water, shelter, healthcare and education to everyone, but in which so many people go without not because of their own laziness and not by their own choice but for no good reason and through no fault of their own.

And even the lucky minority who have those basic needs met are generally unhappy, more than me I imagine. That’s because they believe in a lie. One shirt might make a naked man happy, but 20 shirts doesn’t make a man 20 times as happy. A warm meal and a cottage might satisfy the homeless man, but a hundred mansions and a thousand pounds of food a day won’t make a single rich man a hundred times more happy. These people don’t get what they need either, but what they need you can’t buy and you can’t grow and you can’t build in a factory. They are broken disturbed people and they are chasing the wrong goals. Sure they make everything worse for the rest of us but even more they make things worse for themselves. Perhaps I feel more sorry for these folks than anyone. Do you feel more sorrow for the person who is stabbed by another or the person who slices their own wrist? I don’t know. Suicide rates literally increase in people who win the lottery. These kinds of people would drop bombs on innocent families of children to make a buck, but that same buck is killing them too. Those who promote greed and capital competition on utilitarian grounds are victims of circular reasoning: They measure the benefits of wealth-obsession by how wealthy it makes people. I could give a damn about an increase in the average income when children are starving. I don’t care about a percentage point change in GDP when whole families are homeless even on the streets of America. Screw the economy.

I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. I’m just an unhappy man rambling here. I know there is a lot of people who do feel like me. I know there is thousands if not over the lifetime of this website a million people who have read things I wrote here, many who agree and some who are inclined to reach out to me. I wish I could be more of a leader for you. I don’t have the confidence of a natural leader. I don’t have the decisiveness. Despite this kind of rambling, I’m not opinionated enough. I don’t have the perfect plan for you—or what I falsely believe to be the perfect plan. I just have some of these beliefs. I believe this world is crazy and I believe only a deeply disturbed person could feel sane living in this crazy world. I hope you believe as I do, but if you do I feel sorry for you because I know it’s not a recipe for happiness. It’s being dissatisfied with where you are but without a destination or even a map.

The thing I am most surest of though is that I do love you. I may have never met you and I may never meet you, but I love you. We’re in this together.

Let me know what you think.

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Children suffering from Poverty