People aren’t things we can sweep away

People aren’t things we can sweep away

As much as we try to, we can’t eliminate the problems we face by making them less visible. The earth warms as we drive to work, the homeless find shelter away from the public when dropped off at the county line, the children of those less able to afford good housing still get substandard educations and those who become ill still tax our emergency rooms even if we prevent their entry into hospitals.

People don’t just go away. They have a persistence that can’t be zoned away, can’t be ignored because we have “a safety net” and don’t just stay outside the comfortable bubbles we build for ourselves.

We must be more than an engine for the economy. We must look beyond the interests of the few or even the many. We must help those most unable to help themselves.

This persistence in life that people have should be directed towards making their lives better, towards making the lives of those around them better. This doesn’t just help those we help, it helps all of us. Bootstrapping isn’t something anyone does on their own, even if they think their success is entirely of their making.

Our civilization is the result of generations of effort, of people toiling, of people standing on the shoulders of giants, of people benefiting from the common good and making the commons larger and better. It’s very, very hard to build a society, but it is very easy to let it wither on the vine.

The people we leave behind won’t go away. They can be made more distant from the success of our civilization. But eventually their lack of self interest will bring down what we’ve built. We must bring about peaceful revolution if we are to prevent violent revolution.