Talk therapy can't curtail financial inequality there are no coping skills that can overcome capitalism Society has found a way of insidiously co-opting self-care transforming it into a tool for further oppression and victim blaming My yoga is a blessed balm that soothes my chaffing soul but it cannot numb the suffering of the world the way it is with a sun obscured by industry I resent the way this covert corruption soils such inherent goods forcing me to balance getting better with holding my gaze steady on social injustice I don't want my efforts at wellness soured with the suspicion I'm being sedated to better benefit the sinister systems in place to be more comfortable under the thumb of insurmountable greed I will not be gaslit into blaming myself for not being able to find contentment in a broken world that could be better but chooses to stay the same due to a powerful few I will not allow mental wellness to be something to keep me complacent I will still seek it, but instead use it to give me the strength I need to create change
What comes to mind when you hear the word Satanist? Do you recoil? Does judgement and/or fear begin to bubble to the mind’s surface? Or do you chuckle and write Satanists off as just angsty, counter cultural, devil’s advocates (pun intended)? What does Satanism even mean? What do the people that consider themselves members of the Satanic Temple or Satanism in general even believe? Not many people seem to know or bother to find out.
I was introduced to Satanism by an old client of mine who was very dear to me, whom I still think of all the time. He identified as a Satanist and explained to me that this group does not actually believe in a literal “Satan.” It’s more about aligning themselves with the antithesis of Christianity. I was immediately interested to learn more. He lent me lots of fascinating books and really opened my eyes to the value of this alternative religion.
For years after coming to terms with what Satanism was, I thought that its primary benefit was to provide a sense of community and support for atheists and agnostic people. After all, part of the struggle to leave a religion can be the isolation you then find yourself in without having a place in the church amongst your family, friends, and neighbors. It also helped to keep alive the cathartic practices and rituals that humanity has partaken in throughout our history as a species.
Although I warmed up to the religion fairly quickly and easily, seeing how repulsed others were (even non-religious people, like myself, that believed in all the core values of it) made me wonder why they didn’t choose to identify themselves with a less inflammatory title. I personally love the reclaiming of the word Satanist and the way it makes religious people squirm. However, it still seemed counterproductive and unnecessarily isolating for the members in many ways.
Just yesterday, I began to fully realize the significance of holding firm in the term Satanism and specifically the church known as the Satanic Temple. I was delighted to learn that they had been granted recognition as a legitimate church and a 501(c) charitable organization with tax exempt status in 2019. Though there are certainly some problematic things about the man who founded the Satanic Temple, the mission and actions of the organization as a whole are inherently good in my opinion.
As the religious right in America slowly gains more and more traction in government, and insidiously encroaches on the rights of non-religious citizens, we are in desperate need of protection for the separation of church and state. The Satanic Temple is working to offer that protection and emphasize the hypocrisy of many Christians’ cry for “religious freedom.” The Satanic Temple organizes absolutely brilliant counter movements that shine a light on the ways Christianity often interprets freedom of religion as the freedom to push their religious beliefs onto other people.
For example the Satanic Temple was in the news for awhile due to a conflict about a ten commandments monument being erected at the Oklahoma State Capital. If one religion is going to be granted the right to display religious iconography on public grounds, every religion must be afforded that liberty. The Satanic Temple cleverly did not fight against the Christian monument. They simply donated one of their own, a statue of Baphomet. This promptly ended the discussion, and all religious monuments were banned from being placed at the capital, as is the correct response in a secular government.
Even more amazingly, I learned that the Satanic Temple has been fighting for women regarding the right to abortion. Unfortunately, regardless of the new threat of Roe v. Wade being overturned entirely, many places already enforce horrific laws restricting this right. These include forcing doctors to provide patients with scientifically inaccurate information before being able to offer them care. The Satanic Temple has objected to these unconstitutional laws by explaining that by pushing this “information” onto patients, it is violating their religious freedom as a Satanist. After all, one of their main tenets is: One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone.
For years it seems the left has been fighting a losing battle against the evangelical conservatives in this country. Fighting with logic and reason alone apparently does not work. Instead we must fight back on their terms, with our own, secular religion. I cannot express how utterly brilliant and effective I believe this innovative method to be. I have become so enamored with the idea and the Satanic Temple, that I am now seriously considering becoming a member myself. Either way, I will continue to sing their praises, push back against harmful stereotypes and misconceptions about the religion, and advocate for their political efforts. If you’re interested and would like to learn more, join the church, or donate to support their causes, you can find all the information you need on their website. I genuinely hope this unique movement continues to grow and fight for religious freedom, including and especially the freedom from religion that is so often overlooked. Hail Satan!
No one deserves to suffer I thought this was something we could all agree on someone working full-time should not have to live in poverty this too, I assumed was an opinion we would all share with pride oh, how horrified I am to know the truth that these thoughts are controversial that so many actually disagree there are really people that think suffering is right and just when it's others, that is, never in regard to themselves because they know the intricate details of why they made their worst decisions while looking outward, they assume steps are taken for shameful reasons selfishness, laziness, carelessness, and malice are explanations for other's actions even though the same acts are certainly due to different motivations by those who lay these heavy accusations against their fellow men for some people its very important to know that someone else is below them fuel for the fire of their delusion that despite it all, circumstance, genetics, environment it was their indominable spirit that overcame that they are special, strong, resilient that others simply don't have the will power or desire to make a better life for themselves and that they should suffer for their shortcomings if only as a reminder that life is fair by some warped definition of the word it's more important to believe they earned their good fortune than to acknowledge the random, cruel hand of fate and use their blessings to lift others up into the light
This past week, I met an amazing 16-year-old girl. She was charming, beautiful, intelligent, and interesting. Unfortunately, when I meet a kid, it’s usually because something awful has happened to them. This girl was no exception. Perhaps just exceptionally unfortunately for the story she came to tell. The fact that she had been through so much made her all the more incredible to me. She has no idea how much her bravery and resilience has moved me, and so many others.
This girl was subjected to constant bullying by her peers. It was heart breaking to see that she had really taken to heart the terrible things the other girls said to her. Although she was absolutely gorgeous and adorable, she genuinely thought that she was weird and ugly. The bitter jealously that surely inspired the harsh words hurled at her would result in a severely damaged self-image for the rest of her life. If this weren’t enough, her boyfriend was terrible to her as well. In addition to just being a general dirt-ball, piece of shit, he also drugged her and raped her one night.
The universe saw fit to withhold all mercy from this poor girl. After this heinous incident came to light, she discovered that she was pregnant. Understandably, being a 16-year-old rape victim, she couldn’t bear to go through with the pregnancy. Thankfully her mother supported her through all of this and took her into the nearest city, over an hour away, to get an abortion. After all that she had already been subjected to, she was traumatized yet again on her way into the facility. Consider for a moment the monsters that had the gall, the self-righteousness, the ignorance, to shout at this terrified, emotionally devastated, victimized, CHILD as she went to seek a legal, morally sound, medical procedure, that if not performed would have shackled her to her rapist for the rest of her life.
As my heart ached and my blood pressure began to rise, I waited in silence to hear what the CPS workers would say about this whole situation. My area is very conservative, so it’s never easy to tell who supports women’s rights and who doesn’t. Thankfully, all of the case workers believed that this young girl did the right thing. However, much to my chagrin, they seemed to only feel this way because she was raped. Otherwise, even though she is only 16, they would have demonized her for making the perfectly valid decision to have an abortion.
I simply CANNOT wrap my head around this. People seem to think the militant pro-lifers that make no exception for rape or incest are worse than the ones that do, but at least the former have some sense of logical consistency. All of these people try to pretend that the question is: Is this a baby, a human life, or not? If you’re truly against abortion because you believe every single zygote is a human being with rights, then what difference does it make how that life came to be? If your stance is that a fetus is a baby, it’s still a baby even if it’s the result of rape or incest. It’s not the baby’s fault. Why does this “life” no longer matter when the mother was raped?
No, this is where the true colors of pro-lifers really start to be revealed. For most of these people, whether they are consciously aware of it or not, the question has never been about the humanity of the fetus. It’s always been about punishing the woman. In the conservative mind, pregnancy is the price you pay for having sex. If that pregnancy happens out of wedlock, all the more reason the woman should suffer by being forced to raise a baby on her own, in their minds. They feel it’s “cheating” if women have the bodily autonomy to avoid this “consequence” of their “immoral” actions. Therefore, if you have voluntary sexual intercourse that results in a pregnancy, it’s a life. BUT if you became pregnant without consenting to sex, then it’s not a life, because you don’t deserve to be punished.
This abhorrent logic is also the reason the question of life is never posed to fertility clinics that have freezers full of fertilized eggs that will be quietly disposed of. No one is demanding that these fetuses be implanted into a woman and birthed. When a fetus is separated from a woman, no one cares. Because it’s never been about the fetus. It’s about controlling and penalizing women.
So returning to this brave little girl’s story, a few questions remain that I would have liked to ask these CPS workers and everyone that thinks this abortion was only okay because she was raped. Before all of this, the rapist was this girl’s boyfriend. They were dating. She freely admitted that she had had sex with him multiple times before he drugged and raped her that night. There is no way of telling if this conception happened because of one of the consensual encounters, or because of the rape. Statistically, it’s probably less likely to have been the latter. What then? Was the abortion okay, or not? What the hell difference does it make if the fetus was there before or after the rape? It’s absolute madness to imagine that detail is relevant to the morality and legitimacy of her decision. Yet, to millions of people, it is an important distinction.
I don’t know what will get through to people about the topic of abortion, but I hope that at least one person reading this has come away with a deeper understanding of the complexity and real-life significance of this issue for women. I also hope that if anyone who has protested outside of a clinic before is reading this, that you feel utterly ashamed of yourself. Let this be a lesson that you have no idea what someone else’s story is, nor do you have any right to make such an important decision on their behalf. With the treat of banning abortion resurfacing in the United States, I believe it’s more important now than ever for people to share their thoughts and stories about this devastating reality so many women face every day. While I am no less passionate about this issue because of it, I am so inexplicably grateful that I was lucky enough to have a doctor to perform a sterilization procedure on me at such a young age. I knew it was only a matter of time before this right was stripped away from me, and I won’t be a human incubator. Like so many women who have come before me, I would rather die. Surely we will come to realize that there are many more woman today who feel the same when women once again start dying from botched abortions in back alleys. Pro-life is just a dog whistle. It means anti-women.
Why is it that we always feel so much more obligated to become involved with an issue when it is right in front of us? Even when we know the same scenario could be happening anywhere at any given time, when it is in our vicinity, there is an added sense of duty to intervene. I believe this is even something that philosophers throughout history have pondered without there ever being a clear or concise explanation.
On my way to work this morning, once again, I was forced to observe for the third time, these pro-fetal lifers as I passed through an intersection. I have seen them standing there three times now. The first time I was so shocked, I didn’t really get a chance to be angry. The second time, my blood was boiling as I saw the original man had enlisted the help of some woman. This third (and I pray final) time, after my initial spike in blood pressure, I was able to calm myself down enough to consider why it was that this demonstration always makes me so violently angry. I still haven’t really been able to come up with a satisfying reason for why that is the case.
I know that there are anti-abortion people all over this god forsaken country. But for the majority of my life, I don’t pay much attention to them. Even hearing about the new abortion restrictions in Texas, while saddening and disturbing, didn’t give me the same visceral reaction. There is some type of strange mental disassociation when viewing an issue from a distance rather than in our own backyards.
Another example would be animal neglect. I know that there are millions of animals in terrible conditions right now, a lot of which are probably not more than walking distance from where I am now. Yet I don’t really think about it or feel compelled to go out and save them (even though I wish I could.) However, when my sister and I stumbled upon a starving, half-dead kitten on the side of the road a few years ago, we immediately rushed it to the vet and spent $50 only to have it put to sleep when the veterinarian told us they couldn’t save it.
I am guessing this distinction has something to do with the fact that in the past, we really wouldn’t have had any knowledge or ability to intervene in situations that were far away from us. Yet with the rapid advancements we’ve made in technology, I could make a significant difference for people and animals that are suffering across the world if I really tried. And I’m not really sure which way is the best when it comes to this strange phenomenon of personal responsibility.
Part of me wants to use this inconsistency to remind myself that just because I see an affront to decency and humanity in my home town, doesn’t make me any more responsible to change it than I am responsible to fight for civil rights in other countries. Then on the other hand, I wonder if proximity to a problem does hold more weight when it comes to personal duty. To a certain extent, I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Maybe the universe has presented these problems to me as a sign that I am supposed to do something. Another part of me questions whether what I’m supposed “to do” is practice surrender and letting go. Maybe it’s just an opportunity to exercise my anger management.
Yet another problem is wondering what there really is to do that would make a positive impact. Perhaps it would be more effective for us to act only on problems we have some distance from. At least then we may be more capable of responding with a level head. I’m sure doing a fundraiser for the Planned Parenthoods struggling in Texas would be more helpful than pulling over and arguing with those nut jobs I’ve seen on the corner.
Ultimately, while I’m grateful for all of the activists working hard to push society in the right direction, I don’t feel much like participating anymore. At only 28 years old, I am already so tired and jaded. It feels selfish, but I just don’t know if it’s worth it to keep fighting at this point. In the past my attempts at activism seemed to do more harm then good. I may or may not have positively impacted the causes I fought for, but I certainly negatively impacted my own mental health. Perhaps it’s a greater service to society for me to just take care of myself and be an example of what I’d like to see in the world.
Whatever you decide to do, just make sure it’s out of your own personal desire to do so rather than simply your proximity to the issue. I used to feel the weight of this self-imposed duty around my neck like heavy chains. I would often ruin my own day by getting into fights with people on Facebook about politics, religion, or animal rights just because I saw someone say something ignorant and felt I had to respond. I have always been a firm believer in the idea that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” While I still believe it is noble and righteous to stand up for what you believe in, there must be somewhere we draw the line in order to protect our own personal well being.
As far as I’m concerned at this point in my life, the world is crumbling around us. There are so many issues I am passionate about. I have such little influence and such an easily overwhelmed nature. This is the one and only life that I am going to get. Though it may sound selfish or insensitive toward all of the other beings who are suffering right now, I just want to enjoy the small portion of existence that is mine without inflicting a constant state of anger and strife onto myself. Especially when I genuinely believe the changes I want to fight for will take longer to accomplish than we have left as a species on this dying planet. For the time being, I am choosing personal peace over the pressure of proximity.
You may have heard about a Seattle CEO that decided to raise the minimum salary for all of his employees to 70K. At the time of his decision, all of the right-wing pundits came out of the woodwork to spew hatred and vitriol. They were not only hoping that he would fail and prove their fear mongering, money grubbing tactics and advice right, but I think they were also petrified that he would succeed and show the world the inherent falsities behind their model of selfishness and greed.
Deep down I truly believe all the multi-millionaires and billionaires and corrupt politicians know that raising the minimum wage wouldn’t pose any threat to the success of the company overall. I do think they believe it will hurt their personal bottom line though, which is all they care about. They have no interest in only making 100k a year instead of 500k even if it ensures that the people working for them, who are creating all of their wealth, are able to live with some modicum of dignity and security. The fact that CEOs receiving a lower salary wouldn’t affect their quality of life at all, but would make a world of difference to possibly hundreds of other people does not matter to them at all.
That is why I think the progressives are going about it in the wrong way. They need to stop stressing the moral atrocity angle of it and instead speak to what these greedy people do care about, themselves. After a few years, Dan Price, the CEO I mentioned earlier was surprisingly not bankrupt. His company hadn’t failed, nor had his quality of life decreased, in fact both his company and his life had improved. I know a lot of people who have bought into the myth of capitalism would like to believe that this is just a fluke, but it was the obvious and expected result for people like myself.
So what happens when you pay your employees a living wage? The company doesn’t go under, nor does it stay the same with a slightly smaller windfall for the CEO, it grows and flourishes. The reason for that is because if you have a job that actually pays you fairly, you will do whatever it takes to keep that job. This is the part of the equation that everyone always seems to leave out. Honestly, even if the company is too small to pay their employees any more, just treating them like fucking human beings will have the same effect.
I can say from personal experience that I go above and beyond for my job, and I do so happily, because I adore my coworkers, management, and the organization as a whole. I may not make as much money as I should, but our organization simply doesn’t have the money to pay us more. What they do have is respect for us as people, which is something I’ve found to be just as rare as a job that pays well. And for me, it’s even more important than the money.
Now, you might be asking, why does it matter if the employees are motivated to stay with the company? Well imagine how much money the company actually saves when it doesn’t have to spend huge amounts of time every year training new employees to do the exact same things the old employees already knew how to do and had experience doing. When employees actually stay at their job for years at a time, they become much better at it. They are also more motivated to perform well as opposed to employees that hate their job. With that experience and motivation, employees add a lot more value to their companies. It spurs innovation and exceptional service, which only makes the company do even better, ultimately leading to more money for the people at the top, even though they may initially have to make less to get them there.
At Dan Price’s company, they hit hards times like the rest of the world when the pandemic began. But you know what happened? The employees hadn’t become “entitled” or “greedy” demanding more and more money despite the financial state of the company. No, they voluntarily took pay cuts in the beginning stages of Covid to ensure that the would continue to have a company to work for. They even pooled their money together and bought Price a Tesla for his birthday. They love their boss, because he values them as people. They are grateful to him. It’s because of him that so many of them were able to buy their first houses and start families. I’m sure for a lot of them, it was the first time they were given any respect or consideration by the people at the top of their organization. And with the work environments that exist today, that means everything.
Paying your employees what they deserve to be making already and treating them with respect, isn’t some benevolent act of charity. It’s just smart business. Even if you only care about yourself and your bottom line, it’s still the right thing to do. I truly hope to one day see more CEOs following Price’s example. I also hope that politicians and political pundits would start emphasizing the stupidity of continuing on the way these companies are now. They are acting against their own interests as well as their employees’ and our society as a whole. Few things are more profitable or personally rewarding as having fiercely loyal employees all working passionately toward the same goal for a company and a group of people that they love.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I work with a lot of different local law enforcement officers. All but one of them that I know of are staunch conservatives. Most of the friends we have at the local sheriff’s office know that my coworkers and I don’t hold the same beliefs, so we all show each other courtesy and respect by not discussing politics in each others’ company. However, a lot of the small municipal police stations will send a trooper out once in awhile that wastes no time in telling us all about the latest conservative conspiracy theories, with blatant disregard for what our political leanings are.
I’m someone who goes out of my way to make sure I am not offending or upsetting anyone, especially in a work environment. I’m not above discussing politics, but I’m sure to get a feel of the audience I have before doing so. It never really made sense to me why these officers were so eager to bring up these topics among mixed company. Yesterday it finally dawned on me though. Not only do they not care if you agree with them or not, they are pleased with themselves either way. If you agree, then they’re happy. But if you disagree they’re equally satisfied. In the latter case they’ve successfully “owned the libs” and “triggered” people, which they seem to enjoy for some reason that is beyond me.
I try not to become upset by the outrageous things they say and believe. I know I have absolutely no chance of changing their minds. Instead, I try to use their openness about these topics as an opportunity to ask questions and find out what exactly the other side is being told and subsequently believing. I’m also curious to know what their thought process is when exposed to this false information. To what extent, if at all, are they employing critical thinking skills? The more practice I get with these situations, the easier it becomes to diffuse my anger with genuine curiosity.
Yesterday the cop that came told us about a story where a man was told he was going to die of Covid. He was in the hospital on a ventilator and there was nothing more the doctors could do. According to this cop, the family begged for Ivermectin, the doctors refused (because it is not an effective treatment for Covid), and the family proceeded to petition the court to grant them access to the drug. In the cop’s version, the court ordered the doctors to comply with the family’s wishes, and the man miraculously made a full recovery.
Now I didn’t think much of this story. I was skeptical that it was even true, but either way it didn’t really matter. Even if it had been 100% true, that wouldn’t be relevant evidence that Ivermectin was the cause of his recovery. One anecdotal example is not enough to prove anything. Especially when the body of scientific evidence and controlled studies have shown the opposite. However, I was absolutely shocked to discover that this was not even an accurate version of the story.
I was telling my sister about it later that night. I don’t keep up with the news anymore, so I knew nothing about it, but she told me that story was actually on the news. Although the news story was identical to this officer’s up to a certain point, it diverged entirely at the end. The real story was that the court denied the family’s petition for the drug (because it’s a horse dewormer, not a Covid treatment), the man did not take it, and he died in the hospital exactly as the doctors predicted. Now I knew that the divide between political parties in this country is worse than ever, but I had no idea that there was this level of discrepancy between the information both sides are receiving.
I’m truly at a loss to even imagine a way that our country and the world at large will ever be able to come back from this age of polarity and misinformation. It’s no longer merely a difference of opinion, perspective, or interpretation between liberals and conservatives. These two groups are now living in completely different realities. While I understand that the propaganda the right is being fed is usually obviously false and laughably ridiculous, it does make me less likely to believe any news sources about anything regardless of whether I agree with/like what they say or not.
I think more and more people are starting to feel the way that I do. There is no more trust when it comes to facts, assertions, or “truth” regardless of the source. It feels like as a species we’ve lost all bearing on reality. It makes me wonder, and quite frankly fear, what that will mean for us going forward. As a child we are taught that there are facts and opinions. We’re taught how to identify the difference. Yet now it feels like there are only opinions. We’re never taught that even facts can be manipulated and skewed by our personal beliefs and expectations. If you want to find an article or even a scientific study to support just about anything you believe, you can find one.
I have been disheartened by this ever since I realized it, yet I still believed that if we had the time, effort, and access to resources, there was a real truth somewhere to be found and proven definitively. Now I don’t know if I even believe that. In today’s world, with so much knowledge and scientific data available to the general public, it feels like we are more lost in intellectual obscurity than ever before. It does give me more sympathy for the other side though. Hell, if I was constantly being bombarded with the stories and supposed facts that they are, I’d likely be just as angry and frustrated.
Instead of anger, all I feel is hopelessness. There is no urge in me to try to fight what I believe to be a futile battle to return to any sense of middle ground as a nation. I fully believe the divide between our realities will continue to grow wider and wider. I’m not sure how that is going to turn out, but I can only image it is going to be ugly. Yet, I see no possibility for intervention or reunification. All that’s left to do is wait and watch this slow motion train wreck proceed.
Scientists are discovering new things about outer space every day. Recently they’ve even been able to look outside of our solar system and find other planets. With at least 100 billion stars within the Milky Way Galaxy alone, that means there are potentially a billion or more planets capable of sustaining life just like our Earth. Not to mention that there are billions more galaxies in the universe. It’s hard to even conceptualize just how much life may be out there that we don’t know about.
When I was confronted with this information, I started to get really curious about just how much I don’t know about existence. We tend to live our lives with the assumption that we know all of the information we need to to make accurate predictions and life decisions. Sometimes I am even paralyzed by my need to collect all the information before making a choice. Realizing that I’ll never be able to know everything takes a bit of that pressure off. It also helps me let go of my fears and worries about things going on on the other side of the world. It’s not that it doesn’t matter. I’m sure what happens on these other planets throughout our universe matters too, but that doesn’t mean I need to concern myself with it.
It’s important for us to realize that the events we know about don’t even come close to the information we could potentially know. So it’s okay to narrow your scope. We don’t need to know everything. What’s best is for us to each focus on our own small community first. It used to make me anxious to consider not staying updated on foreign affairs and global politics. Eventually I’ve come to realize that exposing myself to the weight of the world, is only hurting my ability to help. I become overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start. I feel hopelessly incompetent to make a significant difference in the world. With all of these serious issues looming over our world, it feels pointless to do something so small as community service in my small area. After all, what will that matter in the grand scheme of things?
There’s the problem. Focusing too much on the “grand scheme” leaves us feeling helplessly overwhelmed. We lose sight of the significance of doing what we can for our own communities in light of the endless global issues happening every day. But here in our own communities is the place that all those bigger issues can start to be addressed. We may not be able to end world hunger, but we can support our local soup kitchen, and that matters. We may not be able to influence global politics, but we can have an impact on what goes on in our home town. Maybe we can’t end homelessness, but you can offer food, money, and kindness to the unhoused man you pass by on the corner every day. We get so caught up in changing the world that we forget the power we have to change individual lives, and that’s just as good. If everyone did what they could for their own village, town, or city, those small acts would create a ripple effect, eventually changing the world.
You may be thinking, well everyone won’t try to create positive change in their own community, so why bother? This is the argument I get against veganism all the time. We won’t be able to end animal agriculture, so I might as well keep eating meat. I definitely get the thought process behind this response. However, it’s never been a good enough reason for me not to try. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Sure maybe all that comes of your efforts is that one person has a good day. Maybe my veganism only spares one single animal from slaughter. That’s still better than nothing. That’s still enough for me. That’s still worth it. At the end of the day I still know that I’ve tried my best. We can’t control what others do, but we can control what we do and hope that our example may inspire others to join us. And that’s how every big change was started, just one person doing what they believe is right, regardless of what the rest of the world does or doesn’t do in response.
If you still find yourself feeling hopeless, consider this. Even if we end suffering on our planet, there are potentially billions and billions of other planets still struggling with similar problems. Does that make the progress we’ve made irrelevant? Of course not! So why should we belittle our local impact simply because it won’t change the entire world? Sometimes widening our perspective is just what we need to realize it’s okay to narrow our focus. Just do what you can, and don’t worry about the rest. Let the other pieces fall where they may. You’ll at least know that your piece is being taken care of.
Entitlement and privilege have become popular terms in the last few years. It’s not surprising to me that the disenfranchised among us have finally begun to have their voices heard in this regard. What’s more surprising is the backlash that it has resulted in. Straight, white, men are furious to be called privileged. But why? Would it make you mad if someone called you fortunate? Rich? Well-educated? Privilege is something to be grateful for. It’s not an insult, just an observation. Something that only needs to be recognized and acknowledged, so that we can work together to even the playing field. I don’t know why it is so difficult for so many people to admit that there are many who are worse off.
I think that people are misinterpreting the meaning of the word privilege. Just because you’re at the top of the social hierarchy doesn’t mean that you don’t have any problems or difficulties in your life. It doesn’t mean every moment of your existence has been easy. It just means that despite the problems you have, there are a lot of people who have a different set of problems that are based on their gender, race, ethnicity, etc. Problems that they cannot resolve or avoid. All these people are asking for right now is for the world to see their struggles. Is that really too much to ask?
Apparently it is. One of the ironic things about discussions like these is the privileged side’s refusal to even for a moment put their own thoughts and feelings aside in order to pay attention to the needs and concerns of others. Refusing to see others’ perspectives is it’s own form of privilege.
Even though I am a woman, I am still well-educated, middle class, and white. I fully own that despite my gender, I am extremely privileged and catch myself acting entitled all the time. Maybe it’s just because I’ve always had self-deprecation in my blood, but it’s never been an issue for me to acknowledge that. I have no problem admitting that I haven’t “earned” most of the comforts I enjoy every day. I’m not any better than someone who lives on government assistance, works at a minimum wage job, is unemployed, addicted to drugs, or even a criminal. Luck and random chance are the only things that separate us. It doesn’t harm me or my ego to say that. In fact, I believe it benefits me to consider my life from the perspective of those less fortunate. People that go through life with a sense of superiority and entitlement are not generally the happiest people. When you move through the world as if you are owed certain things, you are asking to be aggravated and disappointed.
I was considering my own unconscious sense of entitlement as I drove to work this morning. I have a tendency to get pretty irritated while driving. Why can’t these people drive?! Why are they all in my way!? It seems like every other car on the highway is merely there to inconvenience me. When I stop and reflect of that self-righteous anger though, I want to laugh. This world is not only for me. Why do I choose to focus on the things that bother me instead of focusing on what a sheer miracle it is that I have a highway to drive on at all? I allow myself to get so fed up with society to the point that I often hate humanity all together. Yet I forget to acknowledge how awful my life would be without the foundation our ancestors have established. I should be honored to call myself a human being, not angry and ashamed. Sure humans aren’t perfect, but we’ve done some incredible things and I’m happy that I get to benefit from the hard work of all those before me.
I wish that those who feel insulted by being called privileged or entitled would instead feel grateful that they have it so good. The problems of the world are not solely on your shoulders just because you were born white, just as the terrible conditions faced by minorities are not their fault for not being white. The conversation has somehow become about blame, when it should be about finding solutions. I think another misconception is about what these solutions will look like. No one wants to strip the privileged of their health and happiness. We merely want to raise the rest of the world up to where they are, and stop blaming those in need and writing them off as deserving of the lot they’ve gotten in life.
Up until I was around 20 years old, maybe even older, I didn’t really know very much about politics. I honestly wish I could go back to those simpler times. It feels like I had a lot less to worry about back then. It’s always easier not to know. My entire family are democrates, so that is about as far as my political awareness went. I was taught vaguely that poor/low-income people were democrates, rich people were republicans. A very simplified explanation of the two parties in America, but I still believe it holds up. At least that’s what you would expect.
As I got older I came to find that there are tons of poor people voting passionately against their own interests. A good portion of the republican base in fact. I was astounded even more when I became a social worker and got to listen to clients who could hardly survive on the small amount of government assistance they received simultaneously complain about “lazy, good-for-nothing” people taking advantage of the system and voting to cut social security benefits. They seemed totally disconnected from the fact that they were the people their beloved Fox News hosts were referring to when they condemn these societal moochers.
I guess they thought it couldn’t have been in reference to them, because they were good people. They hadn’t done anything wrong. They weren’t worthless, scheming, monsters taking advantage of other people. Yet they were still quick to jump on the bandwagon of hate, directing it at some imaginary, caricatures of people that were making it harder for people like them who really do need that help to be taken seriously. It always broke my heart to meet clients that continuously tried to justify their need and convince me that they weren’t just “some drug addict” or something.
What has been reminding me of all of this lately, is the controversy over the unemployment income many Americans have been relying on since this pandemic began over a year ago. Everyone is able to see the absurdity of going out to find work, when you would receive more money by staying on unemployment instead. It is the perception of this absurdity that varies. Conservatives cry: You can’t give everyone so much money or else they’ll never go back to work! While liberals and progressives insist: If these people were paid a living wage to begin with, this wouldn’t be a problem. We must raise the minimum wage so that these people have an incentive to return to work.
Obviously I agree with the latter. The government didn’t just arbitrarily decide on an amount to pay, they based it roughly on how much these people would need to survive. If working full-time isn’t allowing you to earn that measly amount, clearly THAT is the problem. Not that the government is giving you enough to live on. This seems so simple to me, but I know that nearly half of the country would disagree. These types of disheartening conflicts are the reason that after passionately throwing myself into politics for a few years, I’ve begun trying to ignore it all together again. It is just to painful. It seems so hopeless. I’m tired of fighting.
One of the main things I don’t understand though, is what other people think the government’s purpose is. I’m starting to think my idea of it has been misguided and idealistic. It seems like throughout school I was taught that the government, at least in America, was established “for the people, by the people.” I was under the impression that it’s only purpose was to organize our collective resources as a nation so that we could best serve the entire population. In my mind, government was just a way to work together as a society so that we could accomplish things we wouldn’t be able to as individual citizens. Not only that, I thought it’s purpose was to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable among us, to help people. Not only for moral reasons, but to the ultimate benefit of the whole. Having a system to take care of the less fortunate gives those people the opportunity to some day give back to society again. At the very least it would deter them from criminal activity, because they wouldn’t need to engage in that to survive.
I hear all the time that “it’s not the government’s job to support you.” But isn’t it though? Isn’t that why we have a government in the first place? To take care of our citizens? I’m often tempted to ask these people what they think the government’s job is, if not to protect us and support us. I’m trying to stay curious and not let the unsettling mindsets of so many people get to me too much. It’s just not worth the grief it causes me. And I’ve accepted that fighting about it won’t make a difference. All I can do is watch is stunned silence, or turn away.