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Love the People, Change the System

In the past decade of my deep involvement in the education system, a striking realization has emerged: across all levels, from students and teachers to superintendents, there's a prevailing sense of disempowerment and discouragement in their roles. Despite the widespread feeling that things aren't progressing well, few believe they possess the authority to effect change within the system. This holds true for individuals on the top and bottom. What I observe is a tendency to point fingers and assign blame for the systems failures, rather than collaboratively crafting a new system that serves learners and communities. I, too, have succumbed to the blame game, and I've come to realize it only begets suffering without instigating genuine systemic transformation.

Hence, I've composed this brief blog post to shed light on the idea that our role as spiritual entrepreneurs inherently involves changing systems-reforming them with a people-centered focus. When we can alter systems, it allows for better serving the needs of both individuals and our communities.

Allow me to share a couple of recent personal experiences that underscore the inadequacies of certain systems. We're dedicating substantial effort to fostering youth participation in critical infrastructure roles for our nation, backed by the new IIJA funds. Electricians play a crucial role in powering the nation with electricity, aiding green energy projects, and supporting construction. Despite this demand, we face a severe shortage of electricians. While exploring options as if I were a young person seeking opportunities or information, I found it surprisingly challenging to locate pertinent resources. Ultimately, I stumbled upon a tuition-free apprenticeship program at a technical college, though I was disheartened to learn that one of the prerequisites for entry was proficiency in algebra.

Algebra presents an example of a seemingly outdated requirement-a hurdle within a system-limiting young individuals' access to trades and community college programs. In the real world, how many working adults utilize algebra in the formal manner it's taught. This represents just one instance where systemic barriers obstruct deserving people from entering high-quality jobs, jobs our nation desperately requires. Another example of this, I have been speaking often to a friend, who when this subject in particular was brought up she said she was never good in math in school, it was just always a subject she struggled in. So after high school she wanted to go to school for a profession she would be very happy doing but also one that she wouldn't need to know math for. When she enrolled in college she found that you can't really find any careers that require a college degree that you don't at some point have to take math. She went ahead and enrolled thinking surely she knew enough basic math to earn her degree. That was not the case, she ended up dropping college because the math was a total barrier in her earning a degree.

Another illustration stems from my interaction with a woman who endured homelessness for many years. While we aspire to tackle homelessness on a grand scale, many of the programs and financial resources in place fail to yield the desired outcomes. For instance, despite her years-long wait for housing assistance, she hasn't secured a spot. In fact, her name came up on the list after waiting years only to find out that because of an eviction for not being able to pay her rent a decade ago, she does not qualify for a housing program. Moreover her desire to work is hindered by the scarcity of accessible training programs.

This situation prompts logical queries-why should a rule prevent someone who faced homelessness due to a previous eviction? Additionally, it's baffling that an eviction from a decade ago still influences a person's housing prospects. For instance, my bankruptcy affected my credit for only 7 years, so I struggle to comprehend why something would persist for 10 years in this context.

These anecdotes constitute just a glimpse of the numerous examples I encounter. They highlight a pressing realization: the need for systemic reform. It's not necessarily the individuals within the system who require change; it's the system itself-the rules, the compliance mechanisms-that demand consistent evaluation, replacement, and restructuring in alignment with desired outcomes.

I believe the mission of a spiritual entrepreneur centers on reshaping systems to better support individuals in solving humanity's challenges. The true challenge for us lies in simultaneously advocating for systemic shifts while maintaining unwavering compassion for every person we encounter, irrespective of how daunting they may appear or the obstacles they present. This is the ongoing journey I'm navigating, a path of interfacing with both humans and systems as i strive to enact change.

To all those currently immersed in this pursuit, my heartfelt appreciation and blessings. Your efforts are appreciated. I'd love to hear your stories about reshaping systems within your community, all while embracing and and caring for the people intertwined within them.

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