While leading a group of teens this past week in a discussion about complex trauma, one of the 15-year-olds said, "I know what you are talking about...it's like when I wore sneakers to school that were so small my toes were curled under." He went on to say, "as soon as I got to school my friend would lend me an extra pair of sneakers that fit so my toes could stretch out during the day. But I never wore them home. My dad would have beat me, he didn't want me taking charity from anyone, he always told me, 'we can do it on our own.'"
This memory of him sharing rolled around and around in my mind this weekend until it crashed up against a wall when I watched the documentary "Inside Job". The anger that welled up within me watching 2 hours of dissecting a group of individuals who publically demonstrated their greed and lack of concern for those that trusted them is indescribable. The sadness that I am left with knowing that there are people in this world that would purposefully and intentionally take millions of dollars (after they already have millions of dollars) from people who do not have enough to get by is unacceptable. The questions I am left with are countless. The concerns I have are innumerable.
I truly believe that most people are good. We are born loving, compassionate, authentic individuals and I believe only through our environment and experiences are we taught to be any less than this. Does money truly corrupt even our best and brightest? Is it the power and prestige? What is it about being human that might lead someone down a path of knowingly creating fraud against a public that trusts them? How could it be that we have children and families hungry, cold, tired, and going without on a daily basis when those entrusted with their money add more and more private jets to their hangers?
Yesterday morning on NPR I listened to a segment about how it important it is right now to develop mechanisms to override computerized organisms in the future when they become so smart that they hurt us. I sit here wondering, do we not want to concentrate on finding a mechanism to shut our own top 1% off now as they continue to take from our neighbors and colleagues that have less than enough already? Are we really worried about the computers and robots taking over our society when humans do enough damage just driven by greed and power-thirst?
In my fit of inflammation over wondering why we are allowing children to go to school in shoes that are too small, I worried internally about my own future. If I make money, will it force me to make uncaring and un-empathetic choices? Are we all built like the people represented in Wall Street dirty dealings? And on the contrary, if I don't make money will I be placed in that bracket of people at the mercy of those with money? Will I have to worry about my retirement money spent by high powered financial professionals on diamonds, Bentleys, cocaine, and cover ups? These thoughts were only confounded more deeply with confusion swirling around in my mind over the lessons I was taught as a little girl to pull myself up by my own bootstraps (aka if I work hard I can earn). I wonder who is right. Are people inherently good, can people build the life they want if only they work hard, are all people at risk for greed and antisocial thinking, and if so how do I prevent myself from ever becoming that?
That young adolescent boy who was told by his father that their family did not take hand outs, now without coincidence I will add, became his own entrepreneur drug dealer. He did not take handouts from anyone. Of course there may have been none available because his dad likely would have made too much money at minimum wage anyway. If no one was taking handouts than this system would be fair but to have a group of people skimming off the top of everything that low income families and middle income families make seems like an awful fraud. Our top 1% says to our lower 99%, "pull yourself up by your bootstraps and work harder. If we give you anything it will make you lazy." And yet, those same individuals take from others with nothing in return. Who is lazy?
The woman in me wants to apologize for this rant, but I won't. I am at that age, actually probably far past, when I am seriously considering bringing more life into this world. I am angry because of the fear associated with the injustices that rich and powerful people perpetrate on those who have less. Somehow our society has condemned selling drugs (which I also agree is a unsafe choice) but authorizes being paid 435 million dollars as a bonus for a company that has thrown thousands of peoples' retirement savings away. I don't get it, and my anger is also about my confusion because this realization flies in the face of my inherent belief, that people are good.
If you think I have come off too strongly, please watch the documentary and if you can offer me solace or nuggets of peace and wisdom, please do. I honor all of your routine writings to me.