Monday, July 27, 2015

Knowing how to help

Some time ago I expressed frustration with people who will argue about whether something like structural racism or economic inequality is really a problem, and after refuting various proofs they offer, they suddenly go, "Well then what do YOU suggest doing about it?"

On the most basic level it's a dick move to avoid admitting they were wrong, but there are two things that make it more aggravating. First of all, it takes more effort to bring up verifiable facts then repeat stupid things from Fox News that were never thought about that deeply. Thus they have quickly dumped the burden of solving the problem on the person who has already been working harder and frankly is probably more stressed out about it anyway because caring about big problems and wanting to fix them carries some stress with it.

That means it should be perfectly fair to respond to the perpetrator of the dick move with something like, "Well the first step is to get people like you to quit denying the issue." Unfortunately, I have a flaw where I automatically take questions seriously. I may know that a question is rhetorical or a joke, but I will still be thinking about the answer, sometimes in very absurd ways. So the second reason the move aggravates me so much is that I feel compelled to provide an answer. I want the issue solved, I think about it all the time, I have ideas on it, but for something so big there tends to not be one simple answer but many steps and options for getting closer. Having that discussion would take a lot of work, which would probably be wasted on the recent perpetrator of a dick move.

But maybe not. I read an article that I can't find now, but here is the gist: when confronted with bad situations humans will have a tendency to play it down or deny it unless they see a way to fix it. With a redemption storyline, they can accept that there was suffering because they are able to aid it.

There could be something horrible in trying to turn off empathy by denial, though it would explain a lot, but if we focus on the need to help, and that wanting to fix things is a normal part of humanity, then we don't sound so horrible, do we? We just need to have a way to know that we are helping.

The next few Monday through Wednesday posts are going to be going over things that I believe would help. That's a big topic.

My primary issue based on the links I post on Facebook probably looks like it is racism, or maybe police brutality. Well, those two aren't completely unconnected, but going back to that recent post on structure, a lot of bad comes from the need to believe that others are below you. Some people focus on economic inequality, and that's big, but it's not everything, and can't be while "some animals are more equal than others".

Things can also work on different levels. Things you might do to cause children to grow up with less prejudice might be relatively simple actions but take years to pay off. Some ideas might require government programs, but not all. You can make good arguments that no government programs would be that effective because maintaining the status quo is in the government's favor. I do not completely despair of the government playing a helpful role, but yes, I do realize some of the hindrances.

Seeing some of the obstacles, I can acknowledge reasons to be pessimistic, but I'm usually not. The efforts matter because they make differences for individuals. I always want to do more good, but good still happens, and it still matters when it does. Don't lose sight of that.

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