How often do you wonder why something happens? It seems that far too often people tend to think about situations with too short a lens. This leads to a lack of understanding and empathy for other people’s experiences. It also leads to taking far too much personally. When society operates with too shallow a lens, it leads to a lack of prevention or lasting solutions to problems.
Someone is evicted. Why? She or he did not pay the rent. Why? There was not enough money. Why? Job pays minimum wage. Why? The government requires nothing more and the company chooses to pay workers as littles as possible. Why? The company’s purpose is to profit as much money as possible to pay high dividends to a few people and those few people lobby the government to not increase the minimum wage. Why? Because we live in a greedy capitalistic country. Why? You get the point.
I don’t make this point to says we should all just become some sort of intellectual that only sits around thinking about why. I mean that removing the undue onus from a person’s suffering is empowering to that person and yourself and other people to get involved in the larger picture – to fight for systematic change. In a situation such as this one, obviously someone should step in and assist this person in having shelter, regaining housing, maintaining personal health, etc. But it should not end there. There must be a fight to end the causes of these issues and if we are not considering problems with a systematic lens, we won’t know what or who to fight.
It can be empowering to see that these problems you face are not special to yourself, but instead are social injustices faced by many people and then to consider what systems or issues causes them and then to realize that the many people facing these problems can unite to take on the larger issue. That is empowering both for taking on the systematic problem and for taking on the way it personally affects yourself and the people around you.