In which we ring in the new!
In 2017, I discovered that a lot of people are racists and honestly don’t know it. They’ll say they’re not racist, and in the next breath explain that marginalized non-white communities are that way because, well, you see, that’s how “those people” are; they deserve it, it’s inherent.
And also classist: They’ll say, “the American dream lives and anyone can make it!” But show them a single fucked-up white community and they’ll dismiss them all as ignorant, low-class trash, rather than the victims of poverty and societal abandonment.
I learned that a lot of Americans who enjoy/ed luck and privilege never learned how to think about it. They believe they have what they do because of their own hard work and initiative, and never do they credit the fully-functioning society—schools, vaccines, food, healthcare, roads—that actually launched them.
If we’re lacking anything in spades, it’s compassion and humility — and the fully-functioning society created by these qualities. Nobody makes it alone, ever: everyone who succeeds does so from a platform of outside assistance. Nobody ever made it in America without using public roads, public education, public resources, entitlements paid for by ALL. But when we close libraries and national parks, and refuse to pay K-12 teachers a living wage for so long that every state in the nation is suffering a critical shortage of teachers, well, society is no longer functioning well at all.
Nobody ever makes it without knowing somebody, or knowing someone who knows somebody, who helps them. With an interview, a tip, guidance. We’re all in this together, even “them.” Because “them” are us, and pretending they’re other makes you an asshole.
You may think you’ve made it due to your hard work and initiative, but YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO WORK HARD HANDED TO YOU ON A PLATE. There are millions who work harder than you ever did, but they present at inner city ERs with late stage cancer because they couldn’t stop working and go in when it was Stage 1. Sure, maybe you studied hard, but there are millions of Americans (and billions of human beings) who would love the chance to merely study hard. Oh, to only have to worry about studying hard, and not calories, disease, war, and shelter!
Open your heart. See and acknowledge and feel suffering. Sure, beggars at intersections can be grifters, but maybe, just maybe, that sign is true? Half of America doesn’t have $400 for an emergency. That’s how we end up on the streets. FEEL THAT.
And, oh, happy New Year!