Mondays suck, right?
I think human beings have a few all but irresistible drives, beyond their basic needs.
Food, shelter, health, love and connection, those are basic necessities for life.
Hose drives include but are not limited to:
1) being comfortable
2) being entertained
3) feeing superior to others
Now it’s that third one that really gets under my skin. I think it’s behind a large chunk of social media, where people are insatiably drawn to dunking on shitty people or condemning those who do wrong.
It’s the impulse to hate on vegans, for instance, because some vegans decide that their vegan status makes them better than other people, and so they make others miserable, and then people condemn them for being dicks, and it’s just a downward spiral of self-righteous condemnation that just makes everyone miserable.
And yeah, people who do wrong should be dunked upon and condemned for their misdeeds. 100%. The GOP, for instance. Fuck those assholes. They deserve our scorn and loathing and self-righteous anger.
But then there are people who we falsely believe are worthy of condemnation who are the victims of circumstance and the system, not bad in and of themselves.
Drug addicts. Homeless people. People trapped in abusive relationships. The list goes on.
Just this week, Seattle/King county public health posted information to help avoid a drug overdose, and my ostensibly liberal fellow residents went NUTS. “How dare you encourage drug abuse!” and “you’re perpetuating crime!” and “I will not have MY tax dollars go to support scum of the streets!”
No. Don’t be like that. There is nothing inherently separating you from those people you are roundly condemning, other than some luck, health crises, and maybe some money.
Any one of us could be there any given Monday.
It’s easy to feel as though people in difficult circumstances brought it on themselves, somehow. Maybe if they’d made “better choices” or “worked harder,” they could have avoided their disadvantageous position. Or maybe it’s some moral defect in them—a flaw in their character that leads them down a ruinous path.
That is some Victorian/Puritan bullshit right there, I tell you what.
And sure, perhaps some of them charted their own path to ruin, but that’s not the norm. Many of these people are from marginalized backgrounds and have had to deal with society’s loathing their entire lives. They do t have the privileged lives that others of us enjoy, because their skin color, gender, sexuality, and/or social status didn’t render them largely immune to the hate of half the country like it has us.
But people rush to condemn them and, most importantly, be seen condemning them. Make it clear that they are better than the people they’re condemning because they work harder, or save better, or have better teeth or whatever the fuck, even though a lot of that is luck and/or being born wealthy.
Any given Monday, that luck can change.
Here’s the thing. You want to feel morally superior?
When you see someone suffering, reach out to help them, rather than puff up your chest about how much better off you are.
And certainly don’t go over and kick them when they’re down. Don’t get in the way of others trying to help.
If it’s that or ignore them, I think we’d all prefer you cross by on the other side of the road, like a good self-righteous Pharisee or stuffy merchant.
Be the Good Samaritan whenever possible, and when you can’t, at least stand aside and let people who can help, help.
Mondays might suck, but I guarantee you, they suck worse for someone worse off, and there’s no reason to go out of your way to make it even worse for them.
Inspired by this:
Erik, this makes me proud to be on your list.