Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's one conversation you wish you never had to have again?
You know, I could cite stuff about asexuality, or queer rights, or feminist talking points, or even my lovely little rant about how "maturity" is a frequently abused concept. But those are conversations I'm okay with having even though they're annoying.
One conversation I really, really wish I never had to have with anyone again is the one where I have to tell them they should care about other people.
I want people to think about the way their actions affect others. I want them to stop shrugging their shoulders and saying it isn't their problem or their responsibility because they aren't personally affected or won't personally have to look at the effects of their actions or inactions. I want people to stop saying it wouldn't be "fair" to ask them to put in a little more effort, or time, or money if they can spare it. Of course it's not fair! Do you think life is?
I grew up knowing life isn't fair. Sometimes it really pissed me off if there was a small injustice in my life, like something I did on a school paper was okay one week and then the next week it was suddenly unacceptable, or if I wasn't allowed to do something when I perceived my sister had been allowed to do it before. My sense of justice was really strong and I saw some of these slights as BEING WRONGED, and it wasn't FAIR. But even though I can do some things to try to right these wrongs, sometimes the scope is bigger than I am, or bigger than I am able to know, and I sometimes have to shrug and say maybe this time it is my turn to get the short end of the stick.
Because I tell you what. Some people get the short end of the stick waaaaay more than others.
Those people are the marginalized populations, most notably people who cannot advocate for themselves. People who struggle on a daily basis to do things that most people don't even think about--people who can't afford their medicine, people who live with a debilitating illness or disability, people who everyone loves to look at and say . . .
"Well that sure sucks but I don't want to give up MY piece of the pie."
"I don't want to pay higher taxes just so we can have health insurance policies that will help people who don't have access to the resources I do, because hey, they should have thought of that before getting sick or whatever."
"My fellow man isn't my responsibility, even if I have been fortunate enough to enjoy better than average opportunities in my life."
"I just don't want to think of myself as a dirtbag who won't make concessions in their own life so others might be able to live, so I have to poke holes in their circumstances and convince myself it's their own fault they're poor or disabled or undocumented or marginalized."
Why do I have to TELL people sometimes that they should care about this? If you are able to help other people without unacceptable sacrifices to your own life, you should! That's not to say anything and everything you want and choose for yourself is therefore selfish; yes, you deserve happiness too. I don't feel like it's wasteful for me to spend money on my silly toys and indulgent food just because there are people who can't afford those things. But if I have a chance to help someone somehow and I CAN, I'm not going to search for logic that justifies the selfish option just so I don't have to say "I have the means to help you, but I find my hobbies and comforts more important than your life."
But you can't help everyone! cry the detractors. Well, of course you can't. Notice no one said you have to help everyone. But in a country we like to pretend is civilized, we should recognize our responsibility to fellow humans. The ones in our community, the ones associated with our family, the ones who need to borrow a fortunate person's good luck when they've had so much of the bad. It's too bad that so many people in our country seem to think the answer to our various resource crises is "don't get sick" and "don't be poor." Preventative care and financial security are both luxuries too many people don't have. When emergency after emergency happens and climbing out of holes instead of building piles becomes a way of life, there is often no way to plan for the future, especially if you were BORN in a hole.
Someone who lives in a hole may just be saying "Please don't actively remove my handholds. Please don't dig my hole deeper. Please don't use your own shovel to bury me." And sometimes they might even be saying "Oh hey, I see you have four ladders and only two people in your party, and plus you're not in a hole. Can I use one of your ladders?" This is reacted to as if the person said "They think people who have earned ladders don't deserve to keep them! They want us to use our resources to elevate them out of the hole they dug themselves into and build them a house besides!" Uhhh nobody said that.
Help where you can. And don't actively hurt. Just frigging . . . do it.
You ARE responsible for your fellow humans. I shouldn't have to tell you that.