The future is full of hope

The Future is Full of HOPE

We’re going to start off with a little riddle:

A father and his son are in a car accident. The father dies instantly, and the son is taken to the nearest hospital. The doctor comes in and exclaims ‘I can’t operate on this boy!’
‘Why not?’ the nurse asks.
‘Because he’s my son,’ the doctor responds.
How is this possible?

An old one, for sure. Do you remember the first time you heard it? I do! I was still a kid. Of course the answer is “The doctor is the boy’s mother.” Duh. And I remember saying: “Oh duh! (probably with a forehead-to-the-hand smack)” but I totally didn’t get the answer. It was, indeed, a riddle. You could blame this on my upbringing, except I was raised by incredible, feminist parents that instilled very young that I could do anything I wanted to do even though I was a girl. So, I’m blaming society as a whole. We knew women could be doctors. We even knew some female docs, but they were usually male.

This week, I told this riddle to my children.

Without a beat, Penny said: “And the doctor isn’t the boy’s mom?” as if that answer was too obvious, it couldn’t possibly be the answer. It wasn’t a riddle! Of course women are doctors!

The Future is Bright

“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way…” I’ll stop singing (though come back Monday and you *just might* hear a soundbite of my singing!). But, in reality, I feel like the world is getting so dark, but then I see the children…

The world gets smaller every year and my children now have cousins that are Latino, cousins that are Muslim, and friends from many backgrounds very different than their own. I’m not saying racism won’t be taught to some kids, but with the world getting smaller, the “unknown” aspect gets diminished.

Kids all over the world are doing amazing, important things. If this video doesn’t give you hope (it’s possible I may have shed a tear… ), I don’t know what will! Seriously worth 5 minutes of your time today.

The intelligence of the next generation is barely tapped! Their magic and potential is going to explode and change the world!

Just this month, kids in Australia remade a $750 malaria drug for only $2! (Maybe there’s only hope coming out of Australia!) Of course, instead of being all excited about the potential for the future, pharma grown-ups had to tear them down on social media before being able to congratulate them.

We, adults, have a lot to learn from our children.

There’s Still Work To Be Done

Last month, I read a study that has haunted me all month. There’s a gene that is associated with higher education attainment and higher wages… so, basically a “high potential” gene. Now, they tracked the gene in a large group of people to see if the results held up. These “genetic endowments” that predicted educational attainment were also predictors of employment, a longer work life, earnings, and wealth. There was a group of people, however, that did not see these effects with these “genetic endowments”: The poor. The kids that couldn’t go to college because of a lack of funds didn’t see any of the other benefits of having the “high potential genes.” The study abstract concluded: “The finding that childhood poverty limits the educational attainment of high-ability individuals suggests the existence of unrealized human potential.

Haunting words.

Because some people win the birth lottery, they have the ability to reach their full potential. Others do not.

The minds that could cure cancer, solve global warming, and end poverty might be stuck in poverty themselves and the world will miss out because of that.

Northern Expenditure is primarily a personal finance blog. If I didn’t take the time to highlight the fact that money makes things icky and unfair a lot of the time, I wouldn’t be doing my job. I do not have a cure for cancer in me. My mind doesn’t work that way. I don’t know how to solve large-scale problems. So it’s not fair that I was given the ability to succeed when others were not.

The future is, indeed, very bright. But it could be brighter. What can we do to make it that way?


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  1. Matt @ Optimize Your Life

    Thank you for this. It is easy to get caught up in the bad things that are happening (and the bad decision that older folks in America are making) and envision a terrible future. But you are absolutely right that kids today are already over a lot of the societal problems that still plague the older generations. (And well done on raising informed and less biased children :-))

    I’m curious to see what other people recommend for addressing poverty. From where I’m sitting it looks like the most powerful way to address poverty in the United States on a wide scale is in the political sphere (which is an unpopular position in the personal finance community). I think we need to work to expand safety net programs, especially for children, and to expand access to high-quality education for lower-income children. It would be lovely if we could just get everyone to be better informed on money issues so that they can make better financial decisions and lift themselves out of poverty. But while I’ve seen other bloggers pitch this angle, I’ve never seen a realistic plan to make it happen.

    • MaggieBanks

      I agree with you on the social safety nets. Poverty breeds poverty because there’s no way out without help. Kids are stuck at home instead of going to high school because the grown-ups have to work and can’t afford daycare for the little ones. I am a big fan of personal finance education on principle, but the research really doesn’t back up the idea that this fosters any change.

  2. Oh my, that song. That was the one and only time in my whole life that anyone was silly enough to encourage me to sing in public. I was in the eighth grade and I even had a one line solo “Show them all the beauty they possess inside”. I was so proud. And so off key.

    Childhood poverty is a horrible thing. I grew up in India and I grew up used to seeing children in rags standing at traffic lights and living under bridges. We gave them a few bucks but I never really thought about them very much – it was just a fact of life, a sad one, but a “normal” one – they were an expected part of life, like power cuts and mosquitos. For me it took going away for a while and then going back home to actually see them. To see them and to feel so very ashamed of ever just accepting it as a fact of life.

    What can we do? The larger problem is too big for me, too overwhelming. My personal strategy is to do what my parents have done their whole lives. Find one kid. At least one. And pay to make their lives better. Pay to make sure they stay in school, have books etc. etc.

    • MaggieBanks

      YES! One kid. Help people we know. I really hope my kids learn that kids around them are struggling and to be aware. I’m always telling them “there’s more we could be doing. There’s always more ways to help.” These conversations get better as they get older.

  3. ChooseBetterLife

    I agree with Mrs. BITA. While intellectually we know that problems are more than an individual, when they seem too big they seem unsolveable. The goals are overwhelming, so we give up.
    By putting a face to the solution and focusing close to home and where we can see the difference, it will help keep us motivated and hopefully encourage others to do the same.

    • MaggieBanks

      I agree. I love it when we can help people close to home. The giving tree at my daughter’s school is all for kids at the school… it helps me talk about how there are kids that can’t afford coats and hats and boots in your class. Kids you eat with at school often worry about going hungry on the weekends. The problem is in our own backyards.

  4. Oh, that riddle! I’ve heard it a few times – and unbelievably, the 2nd time around I still couldn’t remember the answer. And I’m in my 20s. Sad. Love that your kid didn’t miss a beat.

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