It matters that we don't carry the burden of reinventing the wheel, and at the same time it matters that we believe that we are the first ones inventing it. It matters every time a screenwriter pens the first story of good winning over evil, and every time a songwriter creates the first love song ever written.
I slugged down the remaining coffee in my cup and listened to my friend describe what he called, "redemptive arrogance." The ability to keep fighting against poverty and suffering hinges on the naïve and audacious belief that something new that never existed before is being interjected in the conversation about the poor. It is important that every generation arrogantly thinks they are the first to come up with a solution for how to end poverty. People should believe that they are the first to find a perspective that no one else had the intellect to figure out. When in all actuality, the work of serving the poor and addressing poverty has had almost no new solutions.
This was not a negative assessment really. Because the bottom line is, poverty is fought with love. It is crushed by compassion, and it ends where people's willingness to serve begins. This has always been true. You fight poverty with service. We interject our physical presence and direct our spiritual intercessions. We pray, and we work, and we think. Physical poverty has always been and still is a human problem with a human solution. It is a matter of presence and motivation. We know how to end poverty. We have known how to resolve nearly all of the effects of poverty and have been acting on that knowledge for hundreds of years. There may be new methods of organization or implementation, or new words to describe methodology or new information to affirm or debunk those methods. But there are few, if any, new solutions.
Every time a student finds his or herself in the glorious middle, with enough knowledge to step out from the conventional wisdom of their parents and childhood communities, and not quite enough experiential perspective to learn from the wealth of historical failures and victories has a "new" idea, it matters.
It is exciting to be around students being creatively driven in this season of life. The window for new ideas motivated by this arrogance is small. Eventually, time passes and we begin to see our space in the historic conversation of such problems and solutions. We become aware of overlapping ideas and begin to realize that our idea was not necessarily new at all. When we recognize this cycle, we are nearing the end of our time in that blissful arrogant space. Our role, in the conversation about the poor and the suffering has to change.
If you are no longer in that arrogant space, than with a knowing and seasoned perspective, confidently ask the next generation of arrogant activists and innovators: "What is this "new" idea you have discovered or created?" And then support it with all your wisdom and resources.
~ Dan HaseltineDan is a Co-founder of Blood:Water Mission and lead singer of the Grammy-Award Winning band, Jars of Clay. Through his creative vision, advocacy and desire to see heroes empowered from within communities in Africa, he continues to champion the vision of the organization as a member or the board and as an advocate on stage and many other platforms. You can follow him on Twitter @scribblepotemus.