Don't Dislike People Just Because They Don't Look Like You or Make As Much Money As You

November 13, 2015

​"In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less." -- Walt WhitmanLeaves of GrassSong of Myself 20​

 

One thing that I really can't stand is classism.  It's a subtle form of discrimination, since it can seem somewhat acceptable in our society.

It's easy to say that you're not a racist when you can point out that you went to high school or college with friends of a race different than your own or now you work with or go to the same church as people of race different from your own with whom you're friendly.  Morally, you feel safe.

Yet, there are many people who satisfy the criteria of the above paragraph, yet at the same time strongly dislike poor people and despise the neighborhoods they live in, who may just so happen to be people of a race different than their own.  How interesting.  And how convenient an overlap.

There are other more obvious words for classism.  Snobbery probably tops the list.  Pride, one of the seven deadly sins, is another.  Who wants to be a snob?

I think classism can seem somewhat acceptable in our society, because it's not as stark as discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or national origin, things that are (or are at least considered) immutable characteristics.  There also haven't been a million Hollywood movies and documentaries about how shitty classism is like there have been movies about or against racism.

I think the subconscious thought process with classism goes kinda like this: "these people are poor, because they're not as good as me (they're not as smart as me, they don't work as hard as me), and that's something they can change or control, so I resent them for their failure to do so and I don't like them or how and where they live."

My response to that rationalization is: Dear God! we are all human beings with a beating heart and feelings, you and they and me.  Each one of us has dreams and fears.  One may not live like another, but anyone could say the same thing by contrasting themselves with how you live.  Others have a conscience and a life, just like you and me.  Just because the conditions may be different or there may be crime in some places more than others doesn't mean that people like it if they live there; it may just be that's where they grew up or that's the only place they can afford to live.

We all live in the same general place and the same culture, with same basic complaints about SEPTA service or Congress or the Philadelphia Eagles' offense or any number of other things.  Why can't that be more important than 'I am of a certain skin color and make so much money, while he/she is of a certain other skin color and makes so much less money than me, thus I am not comfortable being near or around the latter?'

Fifteen years into the 21st century and we're still dealing with 20th century problems.  It's sad . . .

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F. TIGHE BURNS, ESQ.

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