This Thursday, I want to jot down some of my thoughts on inequality, particularly because of a conversation that my fiancé and I had this morning regarding All The Rage by Darcy Lockman. Gender Inequality, income inequality and other forms of inequality are the foundation for social justice. We seek a more equitable society where resources are distributed equitably, labor and responsibility are shared, and where every human being is guaranteed their human rights according to the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
With this in mind, here are some of my thoughts for the day, again, loosely organized so that I may expand on them in a longer post later. If you find any of these interesting, and want me to write more, just let me know in the comments below, because I am definitely interested in hearing what any readers may think…
Inequality makes both parties unhappy, including the party benefitting from the inequality. This idea is postulated in All The Rage, and within heterosexual couples at least, studies show this to be true.
In general, men seem to believe the trade-offs they’ve agreed to make by benefitting from patriarchy and doing nothing about it large-scale are women’s responsibility. They worry about “not expressing their emotions” but not about how they will profit off of decades of women’s thankless, unpaid labor. The two are connected.
One thing I don’t understand about society in general is why the concept of equality is so fundamentally repulsive to some people. What has to be so wrong with you that you cannot agree that everyone should have equal access to food, water, shelter, etc? I think about Non-Violent Communication strategies and how they could be used to address this issue quite often.
Inequality can often become invisible, which is one of the problems discussed in older books on poverty like “The Other America” as well as recent books like “Evicted”. One of the major issues we have is that disguising poverty has become easier, which makes the problems easier to ignore. This is particularly disturbing to think about when you think of recent cities initiatives to block out the homeless from sleeping publicly. Even if hostile architecture has an upfront cost, the long term benefit involves making inequality more invisible. The long term prognosis for solving homelessness involves more accountability.
I had an up close experience with inequality that gave me pause. Sandals recently purchased a large amount of golf course land in Cap Estate St. Lucia, and they’ve been ripping up the old gold course in order to plant new grass and redo the landscape. As we drove by, I noticed large pipes spraying gallons and gallons of water into dirt that was only going to become grass. Later that evening, I read a local news story about a single mother whose kids were taken away because she can’t afford to have running water in her home, and has to get some from her neighbor. The government has determined she is too poor to be a parent. These two experiences co-exist within the same 26 mile long island.
Inequality manufactures a sense of perpetual dissatisfaction. The two go hand in hand with each other and I wonder how much happier people would be if we dedicated our lives to pursuing equitable living for all people rather than hoarding resources for ourselves (uhh, if you happen to be a resource hoarder that is and not struggling to make rent next month. I’m not sure who is reading this.)
What’s the most personal level we can practice reducing inequality on? Is it giving to people who have less than us without strings attached? Is it taking the time to help our neighbors with something? Is it sharing our skills and wisdom to empower someone to leave a difficult situation? Maybe the only way to tackle inequality is via practicing some kind of active politics?
I’ve had some experiences recently that fall in line with many of my life experiences involving privileged people. I feel disturbed at the lack of contentedness I see amongst the people who hoard resources, or exploit labor at the expense of others. I wonder if they feel empathy towards other people. Or maybe empathy is only reserved for stray dogs, and only other inferior creatures who don’t run the risk of getting uppity.
When I see water, fresh water, that people in this country need, getting sprayed into the ether so a multi-millionaire on a golf vacation can see useless ineffective sprawling lawn and leave a three star review on Google, it’s hard to feel patient, hopeful or idealistic about the world. But I do. Because despite all of that, I know the truth is that we, the caring, kind, compassionate people are many, and the greedy, selfish, hoarders are few. For today, I need to believe at least that.