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Unseen Mirrors

JC Collins

JC Collins

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Shame.

Morning traffic in downtown Edmonton is not so bad. Getting ahead of the 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM road glut is a snap when I leave the house at 6:30 AM and drive the convenient 8 blocks to the local gym. This past Friday I had to make a rare stop at the Macs Convenience Store to get an energy drink. Life for me is lived around the mandate of 80% planned and 20% unplanned. Not having a cold can in the fridge ready to go was an unusual unplanned event for me.

But life throws things at us whether we are planned or unplanned with our short time here.

Pulling up in front of the Macs I noticed a young indigenous boy sitting on the dirty concrete next to the garbage can. With knees drawn up to his chest and his face hidden under his folded arms, I couldn’t tell if he was sleeping, hurt, or crying. Getting out of the car I walked past him and entered the store.

Upon making my purchase with a simple tap of my bank card I exited the store and walked past him again. This time I looked down with more intent and felt the urge to ask him if he needed help. What could have brought this young man, maybe 12 or 13 years old, to curl up next to a garbage can? What had happened throughout the night? Where was his home?

Opening the car door I got in and looked back just in time to catch him glancing up from under his arms. Our eyes skipped off each other and he looked back down while I put my seatbelt on and started the car. What could I do for him? Give him money? A ride somewhere? Bring him home and tell Marianne that I had no choice? Life doesn’t seem that simple sometimes.

Backing the car out I drove towards the gym down the street with the image of his feet and torn sneakers turned hopelessly inward with toes almost touching. Could he have been one of my own sons in another life? Another world?

I felt ashamed for not doing something. Anything.

For the attentive observer, the material world is full of mirrors which can be used to self-reflect on our own behavior and place within the larger existence of conscious interaction. Most of these mirrors are ignored or remain unseen through our own self-obsession and quest for glorification.

While at the gym I received a Twitter notification on my Apple Watch from longtime reader and friend Dane. It was a link to an article quoting the CEO of SBI Holdings, where the Japanese executive stated he is confident that XRP will become the global standard. Boom. Of course, it will. A lot of different thoughts were going through my mind as I loaded fourteen 45 pound plates on the leg press. Yes, fourteen.

Glorification.

The Bluetooth Bose earbuds connected to my watch blasted AC/DC Back in Black as I lowered myself into the press. Those damn ripped sneakers. The garbage can was even overflowing with a nights worth of drunken hot dog eating and slurpy slurping. On another morning I had noticed a pair of jeans laying on top of the garbage can. What the hell happens here on Thursday nights? Maybe I should come down and check it out sometime.

A few months back I had purchased and registered the domain name Interledger.Solutions. There was no big idea I had for it and it just felt like the right thing to do. It fell under my 20% unplanned allowance. As I lowered the weight back on the press the thought crossed my mind that maybe I could use the domain to build a blockchain based service to address the rampant corruption and poverty which, despite billions of dollars in Canadian government handouts under the Indian Act, still afflicts the larger indigenous populations which remain on the reserve lands across the nation.

There are reserves which still have no running water or electricity. The substance abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and mental and spiritual shattering of those children born into that existence is undeniable and shameful. Our media doesn’t like to talk about it but the reality of these conditions is common knowledge. The boy outside of the Macs would likely have fled one of these reserves to escape the abuse and horrible conditions, only to find a cruel world which not only disregarded his hardship but abused him further.

The Apple Watch gave me another notification. This time it was an email from a reader asking what I thought the price of XRP will be by the end of the year. How the hell would I know? Though I’m confident that worldwide adoption will continue and XRP will indeed become the global standard, the process of adoption and appreciation will flow through various and simultaneous pipelines across borders and service sectors, with banking and payment providers being just two of those.

While most are focused on the potential value of XRP and the glorification which comes with the new wealth, other companies, such as Ripple themselves, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have been busy building parallel infrastructure to use XRP and the Interledger to allow nearly 2 billion people around the world to access the value of the global marketplace for the first time.

It’s called Mojaloop. From Ripple Insights:

“Many of the world’s poor in developing countries — nearly 2 billion, according to the World Bank — struggle to lift themselves out of poverty simply because they don’t have a bank account or financial services.”

“This is a missed opportunity for the financial services industry that has traditionally focused on the rich and middle class. In fact, developing markets represent the next frontier for economic growth."

“Mobile wallets can be an effective, alternative solution for unbanked people, but it’s costly and complicated for banks to develop digital financial services for new markets, as well as make them interoperable so that digital money can be exchanged as freely and fluidly as cash.”

“This lack of interoperability not only prevents financial growth for the impoverished, but also slows growth for local and national economies.”

“However, a new collaboration supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will change that. Ripple, in partnership with Dwolla, ModusBox, Software Group and Crosslake Technologies, with funding and support from the Gates Foundation, developed a new open-source software called Mojaloop for creating a real-time, interoperable payments platform on a national scale to reach the world’s poor with essential financial tools.”

“A New Interoperable System to Bring the Poor into the Global Economy.”

Most well-informed readers will have learned about Mojaloop already, but some may have not. Outside of banks and payment providers, services such as Mojaloop are a reflection of the bigger potential of XRP and the Interledger Protocol.

For sure this will facilitate further increases in the value of XRP but there is also a mirror here which is worth looking at. Is it possible that the causes of world poverty can be addressed at the same time as the overall level of wealth in the world is elevated? Is it possible for us to make the pizza bigger as opposed to just making each piece smaller while others don’t get a piece at all?

Should we feel shamed for only obsessing on the one self-serving aspect of XRP?

While Mojaloop is focused on bringing this service to the third world, there are those within our own nations who have been left behind, like the indigenous boy outside the store. Our governments have failed on so many levels. But this isn’t about governments. It’s about the opportunity for those of us who can see the light within the unseen mirrors, to do the right thing when the time comes.

Marianne and I are agreed that any dramatic increase in our overall wealth because of XRP will come with some additional responsibilities. The world of yesterday is beginning to fade, and with it will go the diametric paradigms which have defined our past.

Socialist governments and the free handouts which come from an unreasonable redistribution of wealth do not represent a sustainable socio-economic model for the future. Equally, the capitalistic model, though the best we have come up with to date, is also unable to provide a sustainable socioeconomic framework which can address both domestic and international needs.

From within both ideological spectrums, there will organically emerge a new approach to human existence based on the principles of hard work and good deeds. The left and right political platforms will shatter upon the hard edges of one another as the new technological mirrors replicate around the world. There is nothing to fear. The past has shown us without a doubt that most fear is irrational. Certain men and institutions feared the printing press. As for me, I only fear the leg press now.

Eventually, I will use the domain Interledger.Solutions to build a bigger vision of the sentiments I’ve expressed here. Though we should all be born with equal opportunity, we are not all born with the knowledge and tools to equally capitalize on those opportunities. Like the boy next to the garbage can, we do not know what we do not know, but recognizing that we are surrounded by mirrors is the best place to start.

There is no need for anyone to feel shame.

The Apple Watch dinged with another notification. This time it was a text from my youngest son who now lives on his own. He wanted to know if we were going to hang out on the weekend. Yes, I responded, as I moved over to the bench press with the sound of Long As I Can See the Light by Credence Clearwater Revival echoing inside my head. - JC

Written for the XRP Community Blog and published simultaneously on Philosophy of Metrics.


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