poor

When the apocalypse comes

When the apocalypse comes

May 1, 2020
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On Being is a favorite podcast of mine, one I’ve listened to more or less since I discovered the world of pods, which might have been some 8-10 years ago or so.

Today, walking barefoot in the park, I had Ocean Vuong and Krista Tippett accompany me. Listened to the edited version, and once it was done (by then I had walked home, donned socks and gotten on my bike) I immediately started on the unedited one. By the time that one finished (which had me in garden garb, busy sowing sallad, digging up a few stray herbs and replanting them in the herb garden, cheered on by Pop the cat), I pressed PLAY yet again.

That’s how good it was. Or is.
I urge you to listen, for yourself, to see what you pick up on.

What calls to me most, right now, is this passage on Noah’s Ark:
[…] the preacher kept talking about Noah’s Ark, and I was so infatuated. I think it embedded into my psyche in really everything that I do, even to this day. What an incredible mythos to work and live by, which is that when the apocalypse comes, what will you put into the vessel for the future?

What a marvelous question, accompanied in the unedited version, with this:

The demand on an assessment of human good and value. And then also the abandonment of what is not useful. That confrontation of filtering for gold for the future.

Today, in a world suffering a global pandemic, this is a very apt perspective to take on.
To address. Not necessarily to answer, straight up and down, but to work with. Sit with. reflect upon. Talk about.

I, for one, have definitely thought more than once how glad I am that some (or perhaps even a lot?) of the – in my view, judgmental, I confess – mindless consumption of shit and stuff, has stopped, only to read the following in a New York Times-article:
Millions Had Risen Out of Poverty. Coronavirus Is Pulling Them Back.
Experts say that for the first time since 1998, global poverty will increase. At least a half billion people could slip into destitution by the end of the year.

Reading.
Forcing me to consider that, of course, there is a whole chain of people dependent upon just that mindless consumption, and if one stops, so does the economic wheels of the other.

And what bothers me the most is how it’s always the poorest and most exposed that bear the brunt of it. Regardless of what it is. Be it war, economic recession, pandemics or weather conditions…

This, for me, is one aspect of what #tankespjärn is.
Shifting perspectives, insights that however much I would like for there to be, there very rarely are Right’s or Wrong’s, making me reexamine my stance on things, my beliefs, my prejudices.


#tankespjärn, for those who wish to discover. More. Other. New.
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Banker to the poor (book 6 of 12)

July 2, 2019
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in Tip
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Sitting at the airport in Nairobi, having just finished reading Banker to the poor by Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace prize winner in 2006. I selected this book very deliberately as I knew I would be visiting a microfinance bank in Kenya, during my trip to Kenya. I’ve done lots more while in Kenya (visiting tree plantations, partner farmers, the microfinance bank, the headquarters of Better Globe Forestry, as well as doing 24 hours of safari and a short stint at the silver beach of Malindi by the Indian Ocean) but having this book to accompany the visit of the Nguni/Mbuvu financial service association made for an enriched experience. The Better Globe Forestry-funded FSA in Nguni is called a village bank, where ”the locals obtain microfinance loans to improve their living standards and to better their economy”.

In conversation with Godemas Motemje, chairman of the Nguni/Mbuvu FSA and  Isabelle Saternus.

”Each person has tremendous potential. She or he alone can influence the lives of others within the communities, nations, within and beyond her or his own time.
Each of us has much more hidden inside us than we have had a chance to explore. Unless we create an environment that enables us to discover the limits of our potential, we will never know what we have inside of us.”

The book was first published in 1998 and a lot has happened since, Yunus himself being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for instance, but even more so, the continued spread of the concept of microfinance loans/banks has truly made a huge difference to the lives of many people across the globe.

Reading Banker to the poor makes me appreciate Yunus himself. He saw something, acted upon it, took notice of the results and their long-term effect, took it to another level – system-wide as well as conceptually – and doggedly kept at it. Did not leave it be, this newfound understanding of his, of the importance of credit. Especially to the poor. Or as he phrases it, to the poorest of the poor even, those without any chance of ever receiving a ”normal loan” from ”a normal bank” as they have absolutely nothing to put in as collateral.

”I also learned that things are never as complicated as we imagine them to be. It is only our arrogance which seeks to find complicated answers to simple problems.”

There’s a phrase I appreciate. Yes lives in the land of No. And boy, did Yunus ever receive his fair number of No’s, that’s for sure. It takes something special to keep on going, upon receiving No upon No upon No. And he did. So I figure, he must have known that Yes lives right there! Because it did. He did get the necessary amount of Yes:es. It took a while, but actually, the impact of Grameen bank (which is what Yunus micro-finance operations was named. Grumman means village.) has been huge. Much bigger than he started off thinking, I would presume. He did not stop when given excuse upon excuse why what he was proposing simply could not be done. It was ”too simple” in the eyes of many. But he – and those he managed to enroll in his vision – kept at it, kept believing and working for keeping it simple.

Is this ”the answer to all that ails the world”? No. But it sure makes a difference, especially to those who are far far away from ever taking a step into a world that, for me, is the normal one. The world where I can get a loan by walking into a bank. Because I do have collateral as safety. And yet – looking at it from a global perspective, what I deem normal, is far from just that, for a majority of people living on earth. Humbling insight, as the entire week-long visit to Kenya has proven to be for me.

”I now focused on the task of unlearning theory, and on learning instead from the real world. I did not have to travel miles to find the real world. It was just outside the doors of the classroom.
It was everywhere except inside the classroom.”

There will be more reflections on Banker to the poor in relation to what I learned while in Kenya in June of 2019. ”From the real world” as it were. A journey of eye-opening insights, as well as a deep appreciation for what I have, along with massive awe at the potential of humans.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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