I have come to the belief that what has happened in many rural places is an onset of lost hope. I have not traveled the world to validate that this has occurred in all places, however, I have traveled enough and been exposed to enough, personal experience and images of places to believe that my assertion here is correct.
People living in places look at their surroundings and the people’s lives around them and apparently decide that this state of affairs is a reflection of their life. When a state of mind of resignation sets in there is little hope. That is when diversions from everyday life become the focus of ones existence. This can come in many forms whether it be drugs and alcohol abuse, community infighting, or other forms of behavior which have an internal focus. This state of being is dominated by a focus and manifestation of "what is wrong". Most energy is focused in a negative way, and as a result, the problems persist and often times increase in magnitude.
In these situations, it will be necessary for the people to be woken up from their apparent slumber. Often, if one was to look at the actual natural, human and community assets, they abound. It is only a matter changing the focus of the lenses with which we look at our situation. In the simplest terms this means that one needs to step into creative and out of the competitive mindset. Wallace D. Wattles said it best as describing the competitive mindset as a “mad scramble for power over others”. As I have spent the last decades traveling throughout rural America, I have found that so many good ideas, passions, visions, dreams have been stymied because of the viewpoint that there is not enough to go around. Additionally, small community politics is also blamed. A few power brokers apparently hold all the resources and wherewithal to prevent good works and change from happening. This view is fatalistic. In fact, it is quite apparent that the people who spend their time bemoaning these “evil” people only provide additional fuel to the “power brokers” in giving credence to the situation.
Essentially this type of resentment only results in both parties getting the "short end of the stick". Yes, some people might think that the power brokers are happy. However, I would propose to ask the question “are they really happy?”. Some people may dispute, however, the point to be made here is that the majority in the community could take their power back if they so choose. If they, instead of bemoaning and adding negative energy to the people they dislike, focused on organizing a group of people in a positive mindset to identify solutions, they would be surprised to discover how much could be accomplished.
John Nash eluded to this reality in his theory (He showed, in general, that there are limits on the degree of success that can be achieved by people in competition against each other). Instead of looking at the world with scarcity and limit, communities should see that there is an abundance of opportunity wherever there is creativity.
This shifting of view from focusing on what’s wrong to what is possible not only opens up new opportunities, but it also frees people from their self made prisons. The irony of resentment is that it really is its own reward (as is any state of mind). As we focus our mental energy on a person that we dislike we really attach ourselves to them closer than we do to ourselves or the people we would prefer to have held in our thoughts. The anger and resentment becomes our master and we tie a rope around the person who, if we stepped back and thought about it, would be the last person we would want to be close to.
We spend countless hours hashing and rehashing the wrongs we perceive, wasting valuable time, while in all likelihood the other person is going about their day with no thoughts about us. How many countless hours of sleep have been lost by our inability to learn this simple yet valuable lesson.
There may be a metaphysical and spiritual axiom involved in this situation. Maybe we tie ourselves to these situations in order for us to learn the lessons of this.
For small communities that want something better, this squandering of resources is especially problematic. Numerous cases can be cited of communities that ended up going away because of their inability to see new opportunities or to get past community leadership infighting, which basically is the competitive mindset.