Saturday, June 12, 2010

There but for the grace of God go I

It's nearly 1:00 a.m. The Dude is in our hometown, seeing his mom, his buddy and his dad. Mostly it was a trip to help his dad paint a fence or something. The Dude is handy and helpful like that.

So I'm home enjoying some solitude. I got into this Facebook debate today with people I don't know. About what? Essentially inherent altruism versus looking out for number one. The question was what does social justice mean to you? Good question about an important topic.

I wasn't going to respond but I saw an answer: It's the opposite of personal freedom.

Yeah. I mean, are you kidding me? Ensuring opportunities for all is in contest with personal freedom? How do you even have freedom without opportunities? If you can't get a higher education, for example, or if you don't have access to healthcare, you're not free. You're trapped.

Then this guy pipes in about how hard it is being taxed 30%. This guy's an American and I did a check on American income tax rates. He has to make well over 100k, and possibly even close to 400k. Am I supposed to sympathize about his taxes? If he made 200k, he'd still be bringing home 140k. That's an incredible living.

I guess I just don't understand. I don't make nearly that much. I don't earn a year what he must lose in tax. But that just means what I do get taxed affects me more. And I don't mind. I don't mind doing my share via taxes to pay for roads, schools, hospitals, fire and police services... etc. I'm a reasonable person who understands these important features of modern life, even the ones I don't utilize at present, require money.

And to require that all the subjugated masses have what they need to develop themselves is only sensible. We're not all born to wealthy privilege. Actually, most of us aren't, that's why it's called privilege.

But it goes beyond that. There's all kinds of privilege that gives a person an edge. Being a man, being white, being straight, being attractive, for example. Then there's not being an immigrant, not being disabled, or not being a Muslim or Jew. Anything wrong with being a gay black female Jew? No. In fact, that is pretty cool, actually. But will you encounter more than your fair share of hardship compared to the Christian straight white guy from money? Uh, yeah. And it's not fair and that should be rectified.

So having programs and rules in place to discourage bigotry and to provide services that the public can avail themselves of, if only they have the drive, is compassionate, and moreover, intelligent.

But try telling this to these rich privileged people who are terrified of living in a world that's more fair to others, because all they think of is what they may lose, rather than those who suffer rising from poverty and oppression.

I called it greedy. One guy took umbrage. But what else can you call it when you feel violated at the thought of your tax dollars being spent for the good of the poor? It's a crap shoot in life who gets what. Who gets the looks and intelligence, who gets the talent and wealth, who gets the opportunities and support. It could have been anyone of us born into suffering or prejudice. And even later, anyone could meet disaster and need services in place to help, even you, even me. Like my aunt says, there but for the grace of God, go I. I'm agnostic, but you don't have to be religious to see the wisdom in that way of thinking.

Vote Green.

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