Most of us have seen some sort of statement or assessment stating where we were in March 2020 will never be again. So many things have happened both in the U.S. and globally that indicate our old way of doing things may be coming to a close. Why is it important to make something new in the world? Is it because we have to or is it because it is the right thing to do? I think we passed doing it because its the right thing a long time ago. Huge systemic change, unfortunately, rarely occurs because it is the right thing to do. Huge systemic change occurs when the old way has become completely broken down and no longer functions. Huge systemic change happens when people just won’t play the game anymore, either because they can’t afford to financially, or because the system has been exposed as thoroughly corrupt and broken.
Historically we don’t much care about corruption unless it impacts a A LOT of us. Corruption impacting a small minority is typically overlooked. The fact this is unfair is typically of little importance to the majority lesser-impacted by corruption. Another reason why change has been slow is that many of us do not learn compassion until we experience discrimination or when we are in great need of compassion due to hardship and it is shown to us. In other words, we get the experience of walking in the shoes of others and discover how hard it is.
How different would it be if we cared about others outside our immediate circle just as a normal matter of course? Turning a blind eye to the suffering of others seems to be the easier default for most of us. Now that our collective awareness seems to be “awakening” there are a lot of unanswered questions and unaddressed issues. We are a culture of selective decency, meaning that decency is not extended to minorities of many different kinds. Still, this begs the question, why are we so shitty to each other? We have put a lot of effort into hiding our collective deficiencies, now there is nowhere left to hide. Ideally, more of us want to address this directly rather than finding a new hiding place.
Why we must find a different way…
How much examination and re-examination is necessary? We have established equality is highly emphasized in our Constitution; we have also been heartily invested in making sure not everyone benefits from said equality. Why is equality so threatening? If equality was genuinely observed, would we have all the cultural problems and imbalances we have now? There is a misconception that equality for all is actually threatening. Who benefits from keeping others down and why? Current observation supports the position that hoarding wealth leads to nothing but eventual upheaval. Constant, slow-grinding upheaval that churns up everything and reveals generations of ugliness.
Do we know what true equality looks like? Culturally, I don’t think we do because we have never truly experienced it. We have read the words on the page, but it has never been truly and wholly applied in our country. Equality for all humankind sounds beautiful, but we have messed that up too by having the bloody mindedness to argue about the definition of “human.” Somehow we have found we can declare other occupants of our planet as “not human” or “not as human as me.”
We have implemented so many ways as a species to dispute equality. Skin color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, financial status, level of education, left handedness,…how many more? It seems we may be afraid of equality. Somehow or other equality has become a huge threat. We have become so conditioned to comparing ourselves to others that others have to be missing something or lacking something in order for us to feel good. As in “At least I’m not…” (fill in the blank.)
There is another way to do things. We could make a world where self-worth is not predicated on others having less or being perceived as lesser due to socioeconomic status. I don’t believe we have a genuine understanding of equality because human history is based upon conqueror and conquered. Have we ever taken the true measure of what it takes to hold another down? Particularly when the “other” is causing you no harm whatsoever? We pay a collective cost of looking the other way just because “that’s the way it is.” Eventually fairness will prevail, or… we will all perish. We are a global society and we are in this together. How much more do you think we can take as a species? How much more pressure before the entire dam bursts? Then we lose it all.
Does it have to be that way?
We can do away with otherness by treating others the way we want to be treated. Too easy, too simple, you say? In principle, there is nothing else to it. If it was universally observed, it would spread outward into all of our various rules, regulations, administrations and systems. We would be rewiring everything and this concept would be the underpinning and the fabric of everything we rebuild. I say rebuild specifically because it is clear to many of us what we have currently is not working. Who would love to revisit all of this again twenty years from now? How many of us want to do it again? Not me. I want to fix what is broken, which we may still be repairing and cleaning up twenty years from now.
Business as usual no longer exists. Business as usual was also ugly, unfair, racist, classicist, and many other things too numerous to mention. The guy next door has more in common with you than you think. Same as the family across town. They want and value the same things you do. There may be a few out there who still feel they don’t have to give a shit due to money, class or status, but is that how you want to live? Sooner or later the world will get turned on it’s head and the haves will be have-nots. Values will change and courses will be corrected and then maybe we can build something together in peace.
Envision and plan for what you want to build for the future. Do it without including safeguards for the “others.” Plan it as if the environment and the rest of the world supports it. Watch it grow. Marvel as friends and strangers alike bend over backwards to help you construct it. Everyone else wants you to succeed, even people you haven’t meant yet, simply out of principle. Stick around, it will be a glorious thing.