There's a whole lot going on in the world these days, and a great deal of it is very troubling. Very. But often, what you are seeing, is actually not what is really going on.
Underneath the vast majority of the problems the world is facing and trying to deal with today is really not racial, or religious, or cultural, or even geo-political. It's economic.
The Arab Spring was not about Islamic extremism, no matter what pundits and various people may tell you. The Arab Spring was at its core and its origins, economic.The man who started it all was named Mohamed, and he had a cart business. This cart business was no hobby or part time side interest. It was the means by which he fed his family, put a roof over their heads, and sent his children to school (in America we are under the impression that K-12 education is free, but in most parts of the developing world families pay to educate their children).
Mohamed's cart was confiscated from him by the authorities in Tunisia for not having a permit. The police were simply picking on this hard-working man, in some perverted attempt either to extort him for money for themselves, or simply to show him "who was the real boss" in and of his life. Unable to meet his responsibilities (his financial and economic responsibilities), Mohamed had lost hope, and set himself on fire outside of the government's office. Within 30 days the government of Tunisia had fallen, and within months you had a ripple effect of government toppling throughout the Middle East. This was about money, economics and poverty. It was about wealth and power, or the lack thereof.
The MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa) needs approximately 100 million jobs by year 2020, according to numerous credible reports, for a population that will be 60% under the age of 25. Saudi Arabia is already 60% under the age of 25. There is no larger national security threat than a generation of young, Internet connected, frustrated and sometimes educated young people, without jobs, economic opportunity or hope.
As I keep saying, “there is nothing more dangerous than a person with no hope…”
At the heart of the Israel/Palestinian conflict is poverty, jobs (and the lack thereof), and a lack of economic opportunity for all.
But you don’t have to go to the Middle East for trouble today.
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John Hope Bryant is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and is the only 2010-2012 bestselling business author in America who is also African-American. His newest bestselling book is HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM(Berrett Koehler Publishing). Bryant is a Member of the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, and co-chair for Project 5117, which is a plan for the rebirth of underserved America.
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