Go Zen: Drop Deserve and Take Responsibility
1) Almost everything you have more than someone else is because of where you were born, and who your parents were, including your genetic endowment and your life experiences. Whether you believe in nature, nurture, or both, you don’t “deserve” squat.
2) Justification for having more than other people can, thus, only come down to whether having more means we will contribute more. Will you use your more to make society better off? Do we want you doing MORE of what you’re doing?
3) Since we don’t deserve anything, “deserve” can’t be used to deny people what they need to live and be happy.
4) Lots of people are broken, and can’t do much that’s of use. They don’t deserve that, they didn’t choose their genetics, their upraising, their parents. Perhaps they shouldn’t have more than they need to live and be happy, but that’s only based on whether we want them to do more, it’s not based on anything else.
5) It is in no one’s interest to have unhappy, sick, broken, economic zombies. Unhappy people suck to be around. Sick and broken people can’t contribute as much, and unless we’re Nazis, and bearing in mind the whole “deserve” bit, we should, ethically support them. And money spent contributes to the economy if it’s a billionaire spending it, a janitor, or someone without a job. People chained by debt and low wages bring everyone down.
6) Until we get past the idea of “deserve” we won’t ever really fix our societies. There is NO positive relationship between how much money people get and how they contribute. A cursory look at the banking sector and CEOs should prove the point to anyone who isn’t paid not to understand.
We all want to believe we’re special. Unique. That what we have, we deserve.
We don’t, or not more than almost anyone else who isn’t a monster of some sort: someone who will keep murdering or raping or stealing if given more money. Like, say, the people who run the US and Britain, the people who run the banks, and the people in the Congo who we pay to rape and murder so we can have cheap electronic goods.
Our society runs on it, it’s mixed in with your phone, your oil, your car and far more besides.
Our societies aren’t made up of anyone but us, and we bear some responsibility for what they do. This is what’ll make readers mad, me saying that, me saying that you, we, are responsible. We refuse to accept our responsibility. It’s all the fault of the politicians, the bankers, the military, the… someone else. But not you, oh no, not you. Not me. Not us.
I’ll tell you this, if you don’t accept responsibility, you don’t accept that you have the power to make change. Slaves have virtually no responsibility. Free people take responsibility. Those who aren’t free take responsibility for revolution, or they are slaves.
The world doesn’t have to run on so much blood, so much rape, so much torture, so much murder, so much sickness. It’s not necessary.
Or rather it’s not necessary if people are willing to live a different life than the suburban American life. If they’re willing to imagine a different future. But if what you want is a life where you live in your little suburban castle, driving your oil-mobile to your job, gazing at your lawn, eating factory food, then yeah, it’s necessary. If you want to maintain the current Western, the current suburban lifestyle, then people have to die. They have to be raped. They have to live sick. That’s what is required to maintain your lifestyle.
It’d be one thing if it were impossible to live a good life except by murder and rape and environmental genocide. But it’s not necessary. Depression in America has increased 10 fold in the last hundred years. Diabetes rates are through the roof. Americans and westerners are fat and getting fatter. Civil rights are being gutted, standards of living for each generation post-boomer are dropping. We’re not even living well off the blood we suck.
The rich and powerful don’t want change they can’t control, the middle class just want to live like their parents, but with smartphones.
And so people die and suffer.
Not because they deserve to, any more than we in the West deserve our lifestyle, a lifestyle created not by us but people long dead. They die because they had the bad taste to be born in the wrong place, to the wrong parents. They’re raped because they were born female in the Congo, or perhaps in some shitty little town where the sports team thinks rape is no big deal. They suffer because they can’t afford medicine, or mosquito netting, or food which could be provided for an amount of money the first world wouldn’t even notice, food that rots in our silos. They live lives of despair because we won’t move off petroleum, on to an energy source which allows everyone to contribute.
Deserve. They don’t, and we don’t.
And until we get that, until we stop allowing CEOs to pay themselves millions, until we stop allowing people who lose their jobs to suffer, until we decide that every person on Earth must be given the chance to contribute, the chance to live: until we stop throwing away human lives like dross—well, until then, we’re going to slide down, and down and down. We’re going to blow past 10 billion, and then we’re going to lose billions and many who don’t die will wish they had. We’re going to have drought, famine, war, pestilence. Mass rape as a weapon of terror. And not just in the “developing” world, oh no, it’s going to come home to the first world.
So go zen: drop deserve, and take responsibility.
The life you save might be your own. Might not, too. But it will be the life of someone you care about. Maybe your children, you friends, your family. The people you claim to love.
Because if you won’t do right by everyone, you can’t do right by those close to you.