"A Fuller Spectrum of Reality"
Most of us never challenge our own views about politics or religion. Most conservatives never read “The New York Times” and most liberals never watch Fox News. As the author says, “Everyone begins life thinking that his or her normal is the normal.”
As you may know, I spent much of the last ten years as a volunteer. It would be difficult to spend so much time working with drug addicts and ex-convicts and homeless people and undocumented immigrants and single mothers and unemployed fathers, without developing more of a social conscience and feeling more of a sense of solidarity.
I cannot be as tough on crime, now that I have met struggling addicts and repentant ex-convicts; I cannot be as tough on immigration, now that I have met hard-working undocumented immigrants; and I cannot be as concerned about the welfare state, now that I have met homeless people who lost their homes through accident or adversity.
I still believe in capitalism, but because our system produces both winners and losers, now I see more urgency in deciding (as a society) what we will do about the losers.
The author says, ““Bootstrapping” and “equality of opportunity, not outcomes” make perfect sense if you assume, as I did, that people who hadn’t risen into my world simply hadn’t worked hard enough, or wanted it badly enough, or had simply failed.”
He was surprised to meet people who did not have bank accounts or identification, just as I was surprised to meet people who did not have cars or phones. Without these things, how can someone ever hope to find a job or to get an education?
He states that, “We see different realities, different worlds. If you and I take in different slices of reality, chances are that we aren’t talking about the same things.”
When the Catholic bishops tell gay people to “just be straight,” they see only one reality. When conservatives tell unemployed people to “just get a job,” they see only one reality. When liberals tell companies to “just reduce corporate profits,” they see only one reality.
He suggests that we all need a “fuller spectrum of reality.”