NY Times columnist, Thomas Friedman's July 19 column started with a question: "Why are we in Afghanistan?" He then goes on to share a trip he and Adm. Mike Mullen took with Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, as they accompanied him to the opening of another school in a remote Afghan village. The experience of seeing the excitement of young Afghan girls having the opportunity to go to school gave Friedman an entirely new perspective. As he said, if things are going to change in Afghanistan - it will be through the "9 months and 21 years it takes to create a new generation" and that change starts through being "educated and raised differently".
"Educated and raised differently" that phrase is easy to appreciate in a country like Afghanistan where the literacy rates are 28%. You can see why we would want this to occur - because educated people are people who have a reason to live instead of becoming suicide bombers. Educated people want their children to grow up and build healthy communities and not spend their time as part of a terrorist group. What Friedman learned is that humans who know how to live full lives make the ending of terrorism possible. After 8 years in Afghanistan, it's clear that attacking terrorism from the outside isn't working. However empowering people through education and good early child development gives them the skills to change it from within and that is the keyto shifting the strategy and creating the solution we all want.
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But the need for "being educated and raised differently " isn't true just in a third world country""this is true in the United States as well. And in fact, if the US is going to regain its position as a world leader""the sooner we understand this, the better. The future we're heading into will depend on people who have reached their full human capacity potential. This requires us to invest in the "9 months and 21 years to create this next generation". And the only way this is going to happen is if we finally understand and acknowledge that the work done in our homes has to become part of our paid economy. There's no way we can expect someone to do this work without compensation while expecting the highest levels of outcome. And we need these high level outcomes for our future. We're a post-consumer economy walking full steam ahead into a Knowledge/Service economy and this requires people who know how to think, create and find solutions for the ever-constant changes that our world will be experiencing.
Fact: one in seven adults in the US is functionally illiterate. This didn't occur in their adulthood - it's the outcome of their childhood experience. We are losing ground every day we do not understand the impact this will make on not only the US, but the world. We can no longer afford to have the raising of our children be unpaid work. This work is far too important and the outcomes it produces - adults that are able to function fully in the world - requires us to give this work the respect it is due and pay for it commensurately. Otherwise, the US will not be prepared for the 21st century and we will certainly not be the leaders we could be. That would be a huge loss simply because we do not understand that it is time to leave the status quo behind and create a broader economic system that includes this work as part of the measured economy.
What Mr. Friedman unknowingly discovered is that it is time for a Full Spectrum Economy. A Full Spectrum Economy is a 6 sector economy - the current markets, government and illegal sectors and then adding the three missing sectors""household, volunteer and natural as parts of the measured economy. This makes possible the ability to pay those who do the vital work in the home as a professional career sector and elevate the expected outcomes along with it. Think "Human capacity development professional". It is the wave of the future and it will allow the US to take the lead in radically transforming the global economy.
Now, we all know that Mr. Friedman is a fan of Capitalism and believes that the "markets' are where innovation and new solutions will be created in the future. But great markets""and for that matter, great governments can't happen if we devalue the work done in the home. The people who make great markets are products of the "9 months and 21 years" that come out of those homes.
Would we expect a dentist to work full time as a lawyer in order to earn his living and then expect he would also work a full time dental practice for free and expect the best possible outcomes? Of course not. But look at our expectations for the "human capacity development professional'. He or she must work full time at other endeavors in order to earn his/her living and then do the human capacity development work as well. And we actually expect that this will result in the best possible outcomes! While the dentist can make his living being just the dentist and not juggle both - the human capacity development professional must juggle both or go without any income at all. This is a losing proposition either way!
In Afghanistan, we see the extreme of what happens when a child does not experience good early childhood development caring. A baby starting out with such poor human development opportunities results in an adult that will not be able to participate in the world effectively. Generation after generation arrives at adulthood uneducated and unaware. Thus, being a suicide bomber is as good of a choice as an architect - in fact, it is the more likely choice. Yet, these children hunger for education - and when it is provided, the entire equation changes.
In the US, while our situation is not so dire, we can see the too many children start out in conditions that result in adults that are not able to participate in the world effectively. We can change this. By building a Full Spectrum Economy and adding the household sector to the paid economic system, we will increase the quality of what our children experience from day one. The "human capacity development professional' (which could employ 17-34 million people in this country) provides the foundation for change and when we do this, the entire equation for our future changes. We will be the leaders again because we recognize that the impact of taking this step will have on building a world that works.
To learn more: http://www.partnershipway.org/caring-economics/caring-economics/learn-more-about-a-full-spectrum-economy/the-missing-sectors-household-unpaid-volunteer-and-nature
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