“I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.” – Eugene Victor Debs
Inequality is a strange thing that [for me], produces many un-named emotions. Lately, it has been making me feel like garbage.
It’s hard to see the extremes of inequality everyday; it’s much easier to think of it while watching the nightly news. Currently and unluckily for me, that has not been the case. As much as I feel like a better person for being able to pick up and identify inequality, I don’t feel like a better person.
I feel so powerless and depressed about the whole situation— from my tiny daily life to the larger scope of inequality in the world. I feel bad because it makes me feel so distraught, but I can’t do anything about it, and all I really want is to not feel so distraught. In essence I just want to forget what I’ve noticed, seen or witnessed. Seems to me like I am turning a cold shoulder to a very important issue. It makes me feel no better than one of ‘those people’ that continuously judge the other ‘group of people’. If I choose to just ignore what I see, and forget how it makes me feel how does that make me any better than the next bloke? Thoughts and decisions like that do make me powerless because I am choosing to do nothing, to not even raise my voice to an issue that makes me feel so strongly.
But I question this—with an age-old societal conundrum of rich and poor, of privileged and not—- how does the average person go about making the situation better. Do I make the situation better by simply acknowledging how it makes me feel? Is that enough? For my goal-oriented personality I think not, but on the other hand I don’t know what to do to try and make an impact on something so live-long.
“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” –Paulo Freire
I really wonder what it is that makes each of our lives so different from one another. If on a basic level we are all 99.9% the same, how does life decide which hand to deal to us?
How can people feel okay judging the poor who work 40+ hours a week but still don’t make enough to have health insurance. It should be obvious that even though they aren’t in the ‘right’ tax bracket they are still hard working people …shouldn’t it?
How can 1 person work 50 hours a week and get to spend loads and loads on fancy hotels, long getaways and take out food? While another person who works 50 hours a week is struggling to pay his rent, bills, and trying to decide which kid gets a new pair of shoes?
This quote from Michael Eric Dyson reassures me that this issue is WAY more complex then the [my] every-day mind can comprehend. While this quote leads me to even more thinking, it reassures in essence my soul— that somehow I’m on the right track with my way of thinking.
“Charity is no substitute for justice. If we never challenge a social order that allows some to accumulate wealth—even if they decide to help the less fortunate—while others are short-changed, then even acts of kindness end up supporting unjust arrangements. We must never ignore the injustices that make charity necessary, or the inequalities that make it possible.” –Michael Eric Dyson (Come Hell or High Water)
To me this shows that while injustices are done to the poor, charity does not rightly fix the problem. To me this chooses to question both sides, the side where people need charity, and then the charity itself. Just a little mind blowing isn’t it? Inequality is a bigger issue then we give it credit for, but maybe that is why it’s easier to think about it as some far way, not immediate problem. Something you see on TV sometimes, or hear about through the grapevine. Maybe we keep these issues at bay because the consequence of thinking about it is detrimental to our spirits because its not easily explained and the lines between right and wrong are very blurry?
“We must never ignore the injustices that make charity necessary, or the inequalities that make it possible.” – – if that doesn’t make you think I don’t know what will. While I don’t have an answer for inequality now, I hope that by allowing my mind to mull it over I will at least be a more understanding, open-minded individual who is slow to judge and quick to extend help where needed. Help being a kind smile, a helping hand with a door, a brief conversation in awkward situations. People deserve that, no matter who they are—they deserve to be noticed, acknowledged and accepted. Not looked over, rejected or judged for their appearances, language or their job titles.
Another quote to ponder on the subject of inequality:
“The extreme inequality of our ways of life, the excess of idleness among some and the excess of toil among others, the ease of stimulating and gratifying our appetites and our senses, the over-elaborate foods of the rich, which inflame and overwhelm them with indigestion, the bad food of the poor, which they often go without altogether, so that they over-eat greedily when they have the opportunity; those late nights, excesses of all kinds, immoderate transports of every passion, fatigue, exhaustion of mind, the innumerable sorrows and anxieties that people in all classes suffer, and by which the human soul is constantly tormented: these are the fatal proofs that we might have avoided nearly all of them if only we had adhered to the simple, unchanging and solitary way of life that nature ordained for us.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality)