By Wes Annac, Openhearted Rebellion
Whether coincidental or by design, society is set up in a way that discourages compassion. The poor and working class are so busy trying to survive that we have neither the time nor the desire to help others who are struggling. We have to work, pay endless bills, and try to keep a roof over our heads. We exist in a bubble, separate from the rest of the world, and desperate to cling to our minuscule slice of the American dream.
I can’t speak to the compassion or lack thereof in other countries, but here in the U.S. – supposedly the most prosperous country in the world – the poor and working class are left with so little money and resources that survival of the fittest is all we know. If we manage to narrowly escape poverty, our tendency is to then look down on people poorer than us.
We mock people we consider trashy – people who, in most cases, were given fewer resources than us and are trying to survive in the only ways they know how to. We look away from impoverished and oppressed countries, deciding not to care about the gross violations of human rights in those places.
The people in the highest rungs of power count on us to be too overwhelmed with the demands of survival to show compassion or solidarity. As a result of our overwhelm and general lack of compassion, we are too critical of each other to be aware of the outrageous things they get away with.
They have engineered the widespread belief that the mega-rich are not the problem, but that family buying milk with your tax dollars is. The rich trickle down their wealth to the rest of us, enriching everyone, while poor folks steal your money out from under you because they are too lazy to work.
Don’t worry about that mega-rich CEO who won’t pay their employees a living wage. Worry instead about the parasites down the road on food stamps. Never mind that the CEO is hiding most of their profits in offshore tax havens while accepting handouts from the government that are much larger than anything poor people will ever get. Instead, look over there at that family sponging off the system.
As long as we uphold this narrative and refuse to be empathetic, we will forever lick the boots of the mega-rich as they actively destroy the planet. On and on we will bicker about our neighbors until we finally discover that all along, a small faction of preposterously wealthy elitists have been pulling the strings and destroying the environment while robbing the lower classes blind.
The family on food stamps doesn’t deserve your contempt. They deserve compassion. When we understand that we are all in the same boat and find empathy for the people who are hurting the most, we can begin to address the real threat to our survival.
In solidarity, let’s aim our collective rage at the uppermost echelons of society. This is where we’ll find the real parasites.