• Steve Ross

    Another way of looking at this range of issues is whether we see our roles in managing our lives and institutions through a lens of ownership, or a lens of stewardship/trusteeship, along with the degree of deception and self-deception we engage in when we respresent our perspective to others. There’s a lot more to say about this, of course, but this is enough for starters.

  • James

    I love this piece – I feel a lot of C. Wright Mills and his thesis of the “sociological imagination” in it. Specifically, the dichotomy between personal troubles and public issues, and how these get blurred so often and so easily by our overarching cultural narrative, which is one largely based on positivism.

    I think the Horatio Alger boostrapping myth is peddled far too often by nonprofit providers and those who fund them; I think a lot of this is due to the desire to please the latter, many of whom are also operating under a paradigm that fails to think systematically – mostly due to politics. Think of all the big federal NOFAs filled with language like “breaking the cycle” and “ladders of opportunity”.

    See, that word “opportunity” that I just wrote. Case in point. What if low-income person X gets an opportunity to break the cycle because of nonprofit Y, then (because of any of a million circumstances) fails to meet whatever outcomes are set forth. They’ve failed their opportunity. What do you do with them then? The dominant narrative lacks sufficient imagination to account for this kind of failure.

  • Dan Bakinowski, Boston

    Agreed Steve. Thoughtful and caring scholars have looked at frames and reframing, sensemaking and sensegiving, since the early 1980’s, but it seems that the current social structure only promotes a frame which reinforces entitlement. A recent survey says that FOX news is the most trusted source of information in the United States, go figure.

    Yes, how we “frame” the world and our place in it is the key issue. Family, employees, clients, and the charities we already support take up much of our energy, even though we know that only 2% of our GNP goes to charities.

    We need to consider why so many have left the political world to those who lobby unabashedly for their own self-interest, claiming this will help “raise all boats.” [It’s true, Yachts are selling briskly…]

    We need to spend time reading, thinking and learning about how we can reframe our personal roles in the world to address the facts of inequity. If we don’t act more boldly, daily efforts in Washington to further disenfranchise the poor will continue. For example, research shows that tax policy DOES influence behavior, and that is one area where some immediate steps can be taken to bring about a reversal of current trends.

  • Wendy Leibowitz

    I can see how the frame of, say, an individual household budget does not fit government spending or spending on the needy. But I don’t see the alternative frame or frames presented to counter the little-picture thinking.