“In this world, laws are written for the loft goal of ‘the common good’ and then acted out in life on the basis of the common greed. In this world, irrationality clings to man like his shadow so that the write things are done for the wrong reasons- afterwards, we dredge up the right reasons for justification. It is a world not of angels but of angles, where men speak of moral principles, but act on power principles; a world where we are always moral an our enemies are always immoral; a world where “reconciliation” means that when one side gets power the other side gets reconciled to it, then we have reconciliation; a world of religious institutions that have, in the main, come to support and justify the status quo so that today organized religion in materially solvent and spiritually bankrupt, we live with a Judaeo-Christian Ethic that has not only accommodated itself to but justified slavery, war, and every other ugly human exploitation of which-ever status quo happened to prevail: We live in a world where ‘good;’ is a value dependent on whether we want it. It the world as it is, the solution of each problem inevitably creates a new one.’” (Rules for Radicals, Saul D. Alinsky pg 13-14)
(If any of that made sense to you, then read on. If not, then the rest of it will likely just be nonsense so I recommend giving up now.)
These paragraphs sum up perfectly my mind these days. Reading Paulo Friere and now Saul Alinsky has truly turned my life upside down. These great men, turn the hazy confusion of my mind into concrete reality and express the total bullshit society we live in. I just watched a TED talk by Nick Hanauer a bazillionare who was calling out other bazillionares on how they are living a lie thinking that their wealth actually helps the majority of the middle class an impoverished. High five Nick. (watch a 5 minute clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKCvf8E7V1g) .
We live in a world in which we, (the wealthy, the middle class, the educated the privileged, the majority) are actually hiding behind our fear of losing something to help others. Friere calls us “Oppressors”. And he is right. Alinsky calls us “Have a Little- want mores”. Both men make the point that we cannot effectively make change because we are not able to as oppressors or are unwilling to, as we want more and therefore cannot really give.
We justify our actions and beliefs. We create a culture that does not allow success of the minority (race, class, gender, ethnicity, etc). And we do this all with good intentions. We lay in a bed of excuses and platitudes. We convince ourselves that we do enough and the oppressed are oppressed because of their choices. We fail to recognize the role of the educated and resourced majority (which in reality is the minority by numbers) actually is the root of the problem. We actually instigate the problems… the problems of poverty and discrimination and inequality and judgment and did I mention poverty? We define the norm. We set the bar where only we can succeed.
Now I finished Friere and am not satisfied with my answers and I am just a few chapters into Alinsky and am more hopeful for tangible action steps but I am unsettled and I like being unsettled. Because that is what brings action… and action is one thing that I know to be essential. So watch out world, Prof Zuidema and her class of 27 students are going to start holing people accountable. Starting with ourselves. Oh, and I think I am going to get my PhD. Cause education is the best way to fight. And believe me, I am itching for a fight!