As I was writing my most recent blog post, I was under no false illusion that my partner and I were in the right to be trespassing on private property. I didn't even totally disagree with people's comments on the post, even though some of them seemed unnecessarily harsh to this delicate Canadian. And yet, I was angry. I was angry when I wrote the blog post, and angry when I reflected back on it. Almost inexplicably so.
And then it finally occurred to me. What I was feeling really had nothing to do with the woman who yelled at us. Sure, it wasn't the nicest or most neighbourly of things for her to do, but she may have had her reasons for doing it. Maybe her property gets destroyed by drunken yahoos every Canada Day and she's sick and tired of it. What do I know? The real reason that I was so upset about the whole incident was that, to me, it was reflective of a much greater greed that seems to be pervasive in our society.
I believe pretty strongly that personal wealth is partly the result of an individual's hard work, but it is also almost always the result of a tremendous amount of privilege. In my own case, I had to work my ass off for years to become a physician, but I was helped a lot in the process by living in a safe country, by having access to a good public education system, by being born into a stable and supportive family, and by having the physical and intellectual ability to survive medical training*. In other words, I was lucky. And I believe that anyone who is as lucky as I have been should do what they can to share some of their good luck with others.
But unfortunately, a lot of wealthy people don't feel that way. They feel that they're entitled to hoard their wealth, even when they have far more of it than they could use in many lifetimes over. Republicans think it's okay to cut health care coverage for the poor as long as it lowers their own premiums. The Walton family sits on many billions of dollars and gives almost nothing away. And on and on.
It angers and saddens me to no end. Because this "every man for himself" mentality doesn't make for good community or for a good world. And it isn't the way that I want things to be. So sometimes I get frustrated by it all and get mad at people for not wanting me to sit in their field.
(This is not as articulate a post as I would like it to be, but in the interest of getting something out there and getting past this event, I'm going to hit publish. Please feel free to gently and kindly share your thoughts in the comments. This is probably an idea that I'll revisit in the future, hopefully in a more completely thought out way.)
*To give but a few examples. I could add in many more, such as the fact that I grew up middle class, that I'm not a visible minority, that women are more widely accepted in medicine than they were a generation or two ago, etc. You get the idea. Privilege.