Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A Tyranny of the Ignorant Majority

According to a recent survey, 37% of Canadians believe the poor "still have it pretty good". Nearly half think that a family of four can get by on $10,000 to $30,000 or less, and that if the poor really wanted work they could find jobs. About a quarter of those surveyed believe people are poor because they are lazy.

How dare anyone who does not have to worry where their next meal is coming from presume that those who are less fortunate than themselves "still have it pretty good" .Unless you have experienced first hand what it is like to struggle merely to remain alive trying to find adequate nourishment or a warm place to sleep; unless you have experienced for yourself the circumstances which have caused another human being to become mired among the have-nots of society; unless you have walked a mile in the shoes of someone who cannot even afford to buy shoes, you need to close your mouth and open your ears and stop assuming you have everything to teach and nothing to learn. You need to take a step back and learn the true meaning of words like empathy, understanding and compassion.

The myths of why people are poor, like those of so many other false beliefs, are based mainly on prejudice and ignorance. Nobody is poor because they want to be poor, and simply having a low paying job, which may allow a person to buy a meager supply of food and pay the rent in their substandard housing, does not automatically bestow dignity and meaning to a person's life.

There are plenty of CEOs for major corporations; plenty of millionaire sports figures who simply play games for a living; plenty of rich politicians in fancy suits and big, shiny SUVs who do far less for the amount of money they receive than the millions of working poor across this country, who sometimes are forced to work two or three jobs, just so they can have enough money to barely scrape by in order to give themselves and their families the necessities for life.

Substance abuse, mental illness, a grossly unjust allocation and distribution of wealth in our materialistic and "thing-oriented" society are major factors contributing to the evil of poverty. It is not laziness that causes poverty, it is greed and the uncanny ability of so many people to be able to turn a blind eye to suffering that causes so many to live in abject misery.

If so many Canadians are unmindful to the real causes of poverty, how many other issues that involve suffering are they wrong about? The seal hunt? The meat and dairy industry? The tar sands of northern Alberta? In a democratic society we allow the majority to rule, but if the majority is wrong and merely concerned with accruing money, then that democracy looks more like a tyranny...a tyranny of the ignorant majority.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Yes, a rule by the same ignorant majority that elects to spend 12% of the Federal budget on welfare and only 3% on education. That's about as backwards as logic gets. Poor education begets ignorance, and ignorance begets poverty.