There are two basic approaches to life, and I think the healthiest is a combination of them. One is “The world must change for me to get what I want.” the other is “I must act personally to accomplish what I want.” I think they can be broadly referred to as “Yin” and “Yang” approaches.
With dominated communities the split might be:
- Build alliances with fair-minded people to change the laws and make the world fair.
- Work twice as hard to get half as far. Be so excellent no one can ignore you. Kick ass, take names.
With issues like personal safety you get:
- Organize to make the streets safer, educate people to help, encourage people to stop behaving in a criminal manner.
- Be alert, aware, learn self-defense, carry weapons.
Can you see this split coming down on issues like health care?
- We will organize society to create a health care safety net.
- I will handle my own health care needs individually.
How about relationships?
- Statistics say that there aren’t enough potential partners in my category. The average member of my category doesn’t marry.
- If there are two potential partners left in the world, I’m gettin’ one of them.
It is interesting to see how different groups and different people come down on one side of this or the other.
- The most successful MOVEMENTS have of course all been about group action. (“We can do it, together!)
- The most successful INDIVIDUALS have of course all been about (“If its to be, it’s up to ME.”)
There are some obvious comments that could be made about who chooses which approach. There DO seem to be differences based upon gender or political orientation, and perhaps the relative strength or direct power of the people involved. Neither approach is superior, although there are people attached to one approach or the other who bristle if you suggest there is another way.
Like I said, a healthy approach, to me, is a balanced approach. I can want greater economic opportunity for my group, but if I want my FAMILY to be safe, I’d better not believe I can do nothing unless the whole world changes. The sane approach is BOTH to work for social change AND to seek to be so damned good at whatever factors influence income that I perform at the top X% of my group. My belief: The average person can get into the top 10% of their category just by modeling the behaviors and attitudes of members of their group who are in the top 1%.
That doesn’t mean that things are “fair.” No, it isn’t fair. But if you focus on “fair”, rather than “what can I do to maximize my performance and rewards?” you are waiting for spring to come, rather than chopping wood for the fireplace. What’s that you say? There IS no wood? Are you as warm as the top 20% of people in your community? I can promise that they were chopping wood earlier in the year than you started. In fact, you may have laughed at them when they did. That whole “grasshopper and the ant” thing.
Is NO ONE in your community warm? Then you MUST act together. Acting together to dig coal or plant more trees or move someplace there is more wood, or travel in bands further to find it, or trade with the “wood people” over the hill or storm the castle to get the vast storehouse of coal the evil baron is hiding makes sense to me. Perfectly normal, healthy human behavior.
But if someone is warm because they did different things, and those things are not immoral or beyond your capacity? If you aren’t in the top 20% of your group, defined broadly? YOUR EFFORTS AND TACTICS, your BELIEFS and PERSPECTIVES will make a huge difference.
It will take both. The world CAN be made more fair. And should be. And we can all act with greater efficiency and effectiveness and forethought. And should.
If you can hold BOTH realities in your mind simultaneously, you are ahead of the game.