Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Fix yourself"

The criticism I see most often of people who suffer from addiction - particularly of people with little means who live beneath the poverty line - is that the addicts should reevaluate and fix their lives if they find themselves relying on drugs. Now this condescending answer is all well and good for the critic, as they are often upper-middle class or upper-class people with steady jobs, health insurance and access to therapists and proper rehabilitation facilities. The problem comes when people apply this arrogant reasoning to others far below their own income bracket.
The truth is, many addicts turn to drugs or drink in an attempt to escape their lives of suffering or even to regulate their own mental conditions. After all, in a nation where a frightening percentage of people don't have health insurance, even a simple checkup is often unaffordable, to say nothing of an actual prescription for antidepressants or tranquilizers.
This represents a common failure in American thinking, which is that everyone has access to the same resources that you do. For arrogant rich bastards this doesn't even come into play since they don't care about anyone else (see John McCain not even knowing how many houses he owns or the AIG execs giving themselves multi-million-dollar bonuses during the economic recession instead of paying their employees), but for those in the middle income bracket the reasoning is often less sinister and more pitiable: Americans have boxed themselves inside their own minds to hide from their own harsh realities and have become so used to this act that they assume everyone else lives just like them.
Denial is an extremely powerful tool, one that is continually exploited by those truly in power, the corporations. Just deny that pollution is making the world less safe. Ignore the fact that oil is a finite resource and that in order to acquire it we have to pay millions to theocratic dictatorships who want to see us dead. Pretend that the unemployment numbers don't mean anything.

This denial means that Americans would rather pretend that the slums don't exist; that gangs exist just because everyone in said gangs are bad. It's much easier to just chalk everything up as black-and-white rather than having to think about the social and economic situations that allow gangs' "law of the jungle" mentality to take hold, or the twisted sort of stability that gang presence brings by protecting neighborhoods from being ravaged and picked apart by other gangs.

A little advice for America: stop pretending that things aren't bad, and stop ordering the most disenfranchised and least able to fix their problems while you sit back and watch your DVR. Also, stop pretending that little charity clean-up drives will truly fix anything in the slums. We need to take action, as a people, at the highest echelons of power in order to reach into the lowest pits of America and save our fellow man.

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