It’s a common issue for the Left: Whom to give reparations to? Or welfare, or affirmative action etc.. etc… Many groups clamor for their chance at getting their “due justice” from “histories of oppression”, marginalization and even violence! Even on a smaller less dramatic scale, we see this idea of those that have more, are obligated in some fashion to give to those who have less. Now, this all sounds well and good. After all, isn’t it just to give back what was wrongfully stolen, or to give to those more in need than yourself? The simple answer would be yes, of course it is and we should! However, like anything in this world, the answer is not so black and white…
These cases can be broadly broken up into a few basic scenarios. One, is the case of the marginalized group, mostly a minority ethnic or racial group claiming reparations for past historic injustices such as discrimination, conquest, even violence. Closely related is the affirmative action debate as historic discrimination happened in schools and the workplace for some groups, but also branches out to include other categories such as gender/sex and sexual orientation. Another case is the people who are at a socio-economic disadvantage and claim that those with more ought to give some of it to them so the balance is more even and the gap between rich and poor must be shrunken as far as possible. Also, on a much bigger scale, international claims to rights or moral obligations that the United States must or should honor in giving people asylum or citizenship to flee persecution, poverty or other events worldwide.
My stance on this? The world doesn’t owe you, we don’t owe you… Now, how on Earth could anyone think so callously or without empathy? Am I not aware that I could have been in their shoes too just as easily had fate turned out different? Of course I am! I get it, and do in fact, have a sense of altruism like the rest of us. In a perfect world, or close to perfect as it can be while still containing the same issues, the simple answer would be of course, I have more, so there’s enough to give to you, too! Problem is, it’s not a black and white cut and dried world, with easy solutions that work. Nor is everything on the surface the whole truth for the claimants to our help… Let’s break down the examples with a few:
Let’s start with the first scenario: The historically conquered then marginalized group. They say that since we took their lands long ago, subjected them to most inhumane brutalities, stamped out their culture and claim we continue to marginalize them, we owe them big time! On its face it seems a fair claim. After all, there’s no way around the truth that horrible things were done through out history to them. The group I’m thinking of is the many tribes of Native Americans. We have done many inhumane, horrible things that should be addressed in some form or another, mainly, to never do it again! Trouble is, the magnitude of their demands.
Many want their original lands repatriated back to them lost through our conquests of their people. However, this is not so easy to fulfill, for one thing, countless Americans now live on those lands, major cities built, neighborhoods grew… We’re not talking about the vast open wilderness of the 15th to 19th centuries here! And what about the generations of new inhabitants who never hurt one single Indian nor have even their grandparents? It was wrong early settlers took land through genocide and violence, but the current inhabitants of said land are as innocent as the natives who lived on it two centuries earlier! Which brings up another point in this not so clear cut moral dilemma…
They did it, too! Yes the Native Americans were not some “noble savage” stereotype of a peaceful nature-loving hippie! They were human just as much as anyone else and had the bad side of humanity just as much as we did. They burned, plundered, conquered and killed other fellow tribes in their areas. They may have not had the “guns, germs and steel”, but as far as morality goes, which we’re judging here, was just as barbaric as any European.
Had they an edge over another tribe, they would use it in a heartbeat and would have loved to have wiped out their enemies. So the question is then, what do they owe those people? I’m cool with giving over the land we took from them, as soon as they give back every little thing they ever took since they crossed the Bering Strait into North America from their enemies they marginalized, conquered, subjugated and oppressed… In this case, maybe they could make a solid case we owe them something of some sort, but they can’t hide from the fact by their own logic then, they also owe someone the same things, too! Of course, they are not the only group that falls under similar situations, but this is one major example.
Another major example is more generic and socioeconomic in nature. The Left claims that people with more wealth and social status owe people who have less and they only got it through oppressing the people who have less. For example, if you live in a fancy neighborhood and send your kids to the finest schools, you are also obligated to help lift a kid from the ghetto out of poverty by placing them with your child, or your tax dollars have to go to a welfare system. Or you owe them a job at your company because they were “marginalized”. Or a school has to create scholarships for certain special interest groups. The moral issue here lies in the concept of “privilege” and who has it. The argument is that some people are more privileged and need to combat their privilege and the onus is on them to help fight the inequality of those without it. However things are not so cut and dried here either!
Trouble here is well, how did they get said privilege? Yes, they live in a good neighborhood, have a well paying job and are able to easily provide for their family. But how did they get into such good luck? Yes, some could have had it handed to them, or cheated their way up, but for many, it was hard work like everyone else, through the sweat and tears of their family who aspired for the next generation to have more. Point is, that “privilege” was earned. The rich CEO whose grandpa fled Nazi Germany and built the company from nothing, the high powered mom who worked her way into a middle class life out of a broken home by her work and hers alone and now is giving her kids a chance at a new life to give their kids and so on.
A (white) man like my dad whose grandparents fled the Armenian genocide, and lived a borderline poverty blue collar childhood yet is labeled privileged and the onus put on him to solve racial injustice. Why do these people owe someone with less, but can work their way up, too? And what about those simply born into “privilege” the same way someone else was born into disadvantage? We don’t blame the victim of uncontrolled circumstance, such as a marginalized minority for simply being born a minority! Why is it okay then to put the onus of change on the person born white, or male, and in a middle class family, things he couldn’t control either!
My last but certainly not least example is the “right” to asylum in the US and immigration. I’ve written about it in much detail before, so I’ll get straight to the point: We don’t owe anyone citizenship in this country, or asylum morally that is, simply because we have more resources. We’re not the world’s crash pad, nor babysitter. Nor do we want people who are ungrateful and bring their 3rd world injustices into this country, and demand welfare and resources that we do have the legal and moral obligation to give to our own citizens first! If the roles were reversed, the Left would argue that they don’t have to prioritize us over their people… Also, on an important side note, the asylum law says the first safe country, not the cushiest! 😉
Point is overall, there will always be people with more than you. There will always be those with less than you. Why is it automatically assumed that you owe someone who had less simply because you have more through your own hard work, or your lucky circumstance? The onus for change is not on someone simply because they have more fortunate circumstances. The onus is on YOU to work hard to change your life! You to study harder. Work harder. Grasp at more opportunities instead of waiting for them to be given to you, because for many who made it to the top: it wasn’t either. Conquest and historic injustices did happen, racism and sexism and other prejudices did have effects on the world. However, why is one group more responsible for reparations when the group claiming it also has skeletons in their closet? Or the REAL perpetrators have died generations ago? Or you claim asylum yet continue to perpetuate your injustices here?
Is this to say we should never reach out and lend a helping hand or try to make inequalities go away? Not at all! That’s not my point! Giving out of the kindness of one’s heart, altruism, empathy, charity, all have a place in this world. The problem starts when people think the generosity and giving has to be compulsory and others are entitled to it simply because we have more… We should all have generous hearts, which are open to give to those worthy of it. To lift a promising student out of poverty with a scholarship. To have charities to help the needy and break the cycle and give them the change to work their way to the top. To advocate to make sure minorities are not still marginalized or discriminated against for real. To help internationally without draining our resources we need for our own people. My family opens its doors to less fortunate friends. My dad is big on donating to charities as that’s how he was raised to give and serve others.
The key difference is that is true altruism. Given freely as a choice from the heart. What the Left demands is not altruism or goodwill towards fellow man, but forced social engineering! That Robin Hood socialist mentality that is forced and guilt tripped rather than given freely out of altruism and empathy from within. So in conclusion, no, the world doesn’t owe you anything simply for being disadvantaged in some way, because aren’t we all? No one is obligated to have the onus placed on them for your problems if they weren’t the direct cause of them. No one has everything they need or want. We just make do with what we have and work for what we don’t. Why can’t you?
Serving others does not mean enslaving yourself!