I'm not a big fan of requirements. Usually, I put my entire cache of stubbornness into avoiding completing the things I'm required to complete. That said, I still think there are books that everyone should read. I would never require these books, because I firmly believe that if you come to something on your own, you'll enjoy it more and take more from the reading. So, I encourage my readers and my friends to pick up the books and very often the albums that I find particularly world-view altering.
That said, you should listen to The Third World by Immortal Technique. It's a manifesto for those who wish to challenge inequities, and a laundry list of the things that are wrong with the world today. It sounds pretty depressing, right? Well, it can be depressing, but it can alternately be immensely empowering.
Here's a little anecdote for my readers. I was in an environmental science class in 2007, and my teacher was amazing. He used to go on these seemingly random tangents before, after, and during class. He would just tell stories about people - funny stories- and by the time you got to the end of the story you could see that he was really just highlighting a point for you. It made me realize that environmental science was overwhelmingly connected to everything in my life. There's not one part of my life that's not tied to my environment in some way. It was a great way to teach. One time, he was talking about his choice to become a teacher. He had been involved in a trade (I can't remember what exactly), and he made good money, but he never had any time. He realized that even when he wasn't working, he was feeling the effects of work or thinking about work, and since he didn't love his job, he was just kind of wasting all of this time for money. Now, he came to the conclusion that time is worth more than money, in the long run. Time is not infinite for a single human being.
He said this once (I'm paraphrasing, because this was over a year ago): "The people in charge don't want you to realize that time is more important than money. If they keep you working, and even more importantly keep you afraid of not working, then they can get you to step in line with everyone else and prevent you from thinking outside of the box. But what happens to your quality of life at this point? You become dissatisfied, because you have neither the time nor the energy to do the things you really care about, and a lot of people end up equating this dissatisfaction with the idea that they're not making enough money. They work more. They become more unhappy. Usually, they don't even recognize that they've wasted their time, and this is the key to their dissatisfaction."
What does this have to do with Immortal Technique? Well, his music is enlightening in the same way, and he's calling on people to break free from the mental chains that have been imposed (and that they have imposed) upon their thought processes. It's time to open your eyes, get pissed off, and then change things. For too long, the major artists in the hip-hop community have been buying in (punny, I know) to the idea that money is what will make you happier. To a certain point, I agree, you need a certain amount of money in this world to live in such a way that your basic needs are satisfied (unless you choose to live completely off the grid, but then you negate your ability to change the system from within). I'm certainly not saying that children in Nairobi don't need to eat, or that the people affected by Hurricane Katrina can live without a stable shelter. Instead, I think it's important to realize that all the money in the world will not balance the inequities and injustices that are carried out daily. To change things, to really alter the system, you need time and a certain enlightenment from fear. You need to be willing to alter your lifestyle and to dedicate yourself to the changes that will really make you happy. This is freedom. Money is just another master.
Oh, and here's a little recommended reading for all of the people who want to know a little more about Immortal Technique: "More Articulate, Politically Charged Flame-Throwing From Immortal Technique" by Raquel Cepeda