All of us, at one time or another, have seen human tragedies that broke our hearts, and yet we did nothing - not because we didn't care, but because we didn't know what to do. If we had known how to help, we would have acted.
The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity. To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps.
Even with the advent of the Internet and 24-hour news, it is still a complex enterprise to get people to truly see the problems. When an airplane crashes, officials immediately call a press conference. They promise to investigate, determine the cause, and prevent similar crashes in the future.
But if the officials were brutally honest, they would say: "Of all the people in the world who died today from preventable causes, one half of one percent of them were on this plane. We're determined to do everything possible to solve the problem that took the lives of the one half of one percent."
The bigger problem is not the plane crash, but the millions of preventable deaths. We don't read much about these deaths. The media covers what's new - and millions of people dying is nothing new. So,it stays in the background, where it's easy to ignore. But even when we do see it or read about it, it's difficult to keep our eyes on the problem, since the scenario is complex. And so we look away.
Cutting through complexity to find a solution runs through four predicable stages: determine a goal, find the highest-leverage approach, discover the ideal technology for that approach, and in the meantime, make the smartest application of the technology that you already have - whether it's something sophisticated like a medicine, or something simpler, like a bed net....