I don’t normally write opinion pieces, but I felt it necessary to do so after the last couple weeks of unrest in my city. I read an article in the New York Times on a flight this past weekend titled “Is it Bad Enough Yet?”. There’s a reason it was one of the Top Emailed articles, because it so accurately articulated the feelings I think most of us have been feeling for a while.
If you’ve watched, read, or heard even a minute of news coverage in the last three months, you know that things are bad. The majority of our world is under-employed, underpaid, under-appreciated, and simply put, struggling. I get really passionate in political discussions most of the time because in my lifetime as a voter, the most important topics to most of my network revolve around social and lifestyle-oriented politics. Abortion, gay marriage, marijuana legalization - all of these things affect the quality of life for a set group of people. But hearing things like, “I’m so poor right now,” or “I can’t really afford to go home for the holidays to see my family,” are just accepted.
I’m not sure when it became entirely okay for such inequality to be present in our political, economic, and justice systems. The fact that it’s taken people this long to get mad enough to stand up to the system is maddening because we’ve had plenty of tools to make it happen for a long time. Witnessing the peaceful protests in NYC for the last couple of weeks have not only got me paying attention, but have gotten me fed up with what’s happening to our people. What’s happening to me.
The problem with the way our system works is that we’d rather work on either side of an issue instead of in the middle. There’s always a “right way” and a “wrong way”. Taking an objective approach to problem solving has proven to be the best way time and again.
Do I think minimum wage should be raised? No. I think costs should be lowered. I think inflation just needs to deflate itself. Why do I just expect my rent to go up every single year but can’t rely on a significant enough raise, even though I’m working harder than I ever have before, to keep me moving forward each year instead of staying flat?
Do I think police officers should wear a camera on their bodies? No. Why? Because that’s not going to solve anything and is only going to somehow justify a raise in taxes. What’s the solution? An investment in the communities that these police officers work in. Access to child care, healthy foods, proper medical care, and education can completely flip a community that has felt like no one is on its side.
Do I think rich people should pay all the taxes? No. But I do think the rich should pay more than the poor. The fact that my income puts me at a level of taxing that makes it nearly impossible for me to have anything left over after bills is sickening. I worked hard to be the first person in my family to go to college. I work hard every week to do my best at my job so that I can hopefully get a promotion so that I can have some money leftover for something like a savings account. So that maybe someday, I don’t have to work so hard and can enjoy living.
So what does this rant mean to you? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Maybe something. But what I ask is this: What are you doing to make life better for humanity? How is your organization reacting to the struggles and strife of those around you? Those in your community?
I encourage you - get your mind wrapped around at least one of the issues our society is fighting for. Stand with it, either personally, or as an organization. Support something other than what your organization is advocating for. Use what you learn, who you meet, and what you feel to fuel your organization and your mission. And always remember - we’re all in this thing together.