Dishpan hands

Posted on October 21st, 2013 by george.
Categories: Uncategorized.

O SON OF MAN! Should prosperity befall thee, rejoice not, and should abasement come upon thee, grieve not, for both shall pass away and be no more.

So this is it
The view from the top
A sink full of dishes and the midnight oil
This is the life of the richest of the rich
Wealthier than 99.82% of all humans
7.1 billion people lower on the totem pole

In an hour I make 78 times what a laborer in Indonesia earns
The average Zimbabwean would work 57 years to see what I net in a year
In one minute and 28 seconds I make enough to buy a Coke
While a worker in Ghana toils 9 hours to feed that vending machine
In one month I earn enough to pay the salaries of 221 doctors in Kazakhstan

Even if you work one 40-hour minimum wage job in the US
Earning only $15,000 a year
You are still richer than 93% of the people on Earth

This is not good enough
How can someone so rich be so unsatisfied?
Because this is not justice
This is not fair

It is not enough for me that I am happy and content
And let’s be honest, what right would anyone in my position have to feel slighted?
I cannot in good conscience enjoy my wealth
Knowing an unfair system brought me here

Say what you will about my work ethic
No matter how hard I’ve worked I don’t deserve this
When others who are different than me can’t earn it too

None of us chooses where we’re born
What our gender will be
The color of our skin
Our home country
Our parents
Whether we face malnourishment as a child
Or violence
Or abuse
Or disease

There is no bootstrapping your way out of hunger
Or racism
Or sexism
Or lack of education
Or lack of sanitation
Or lack of stable government
Or a war zone

Women cannot be emancipated
Until they are considered equal
In the mind of every man

Us at the top?
We make the rules
This is the way we’ve set it up
Only we have the power to change this
We invented the system
We benefit from it
But this is not a zero-sum game
There is not a fixed amount of wealth and privilege to go around
And “screw you if you weren’t lucky enough to be born a white male in the US like me”
There is enough potential within this species for every last one of us to enjoy the life I do
And more!
So much more
Worlds you cannot fathom
A limitless future in this limitless universe

We can create wealth
We can create opportunity
We can create equality
We can accelerate the pace of the advancement of civilization
If only we recognize our shared humanity
That it was mere chance that put my soul in this lofty material position
And before fate snatches it away
I can seize this chance to champion the rights of all of us
The rights to have our basic needs met
To enjoy health
To live under the canopy of justice
To benefit from an education that stimulates us, inspires us, and draws out our gifts
So that we can give back to the society that funded it
Before we were old enough to pay our own way

We hold these truths to be self-evident
So glaringly obvious that they do not require explanation
That all men were created equal
All men
Men in the 1776 sense of the word
Back when they used to use “men” to mean “humans”, male and female
All men
Not just the ones born in the United States
All men.
Are you listening, Americans?

“But those are other countries!”
“We can’t tell them what to do!”
Except when we bomb them?
Or drone them?
Or invade them?
Or impose tariffs on them?
Or sanctions?
Or surveil them?
Or establish puppet governments in them?

What if we stopped meddling and started leading?
What if we cleaned up our own house before trashing theirs?
What if we set an example?
What if we trusted them until they gave us a reason not to?
What if we stopped acting only in our own interest, and started acting in everyone’s interest, knowing that it would benefit us even more in the long run?
What if we forgave the past?
What if we lived up to the principles we claim to cherish?

Do not tell me this is not possible
This is inevitable

This, today, is not fair
I am not happy
Until all of us are happy

We created the current system
We can make a better one
For everyone

We will.

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.

1 comment.


Comment on October 23rd, 2013.

First of all, tears. And wow. Second of all, your post made me think of the Eugene V. Debs quote:

“… years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

This post was a great reminder to be ever aware of how very privileged we are.

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