More often than not in my work the people I speak to at least feign sympathy with those whose lives we are trying to make better. At least once or twice a night I get outright belligerent doors. Sometimes these people are on board with the cause but do not like to be bothered at home. Sometimes their ideologies are the complete polar opposite and they do not appreciate someone like me (ie a “librul”) coming to their doors. Sometimes people are just having a bad day. In any case, I don’t let those people bother me. Who knows why they slam the door in my face? Who knows what battles they are fighting?
Every once in a while, however, I get doors that absolutely floor me. These people aren’t rude, at least not overtly. They are not angry. They are just stone cold mean, and I do mean cold. They very politely tell me their rationale for disagreeing with me, and the reasoning itself ties my stomach in knots. I can accept people disagreeing with me. I can accept them not seeing the problem or solutions as I do. No, the people who bother me are the ones that straight up do not care.
For instance I spoke to two people like this tonight. It’s rare that I even get one, but I got two today. When I explained that a majority of the people making minimum wage are the primary breadwinner in their family each of these people looked right at me and said “maybe they shouldn’t have chosen to have a family then.” I was floored.
The sheer heartlessness of it was like a punch in the chest. How can somebody be utterly lacking in empathy? How can someone be so cut off from those less fortunate than them that they can make such assumptions about what choices these people have? It should be obvious that many people do not choose to have a family, that it just happens. Perhaps they do choose to have a family but end up in an economic situation later on that makes it difficult. How ignorant do you have to be to not know that for some people there are no choices? Then it occurred to me.
Some folks are spoiled for choice. They can choose where to live because they have reliable transportation. They can choose to call in sick knowing the boss won’t fire them for missing more than a day of work. They can choose to work a different job because they went to a decent school with less than forty kids in a class room, which allowed them to choose to go to college. They can choose to take their kids on vacations. They can choose to go on vacations without their kids. A world without choice is alien to them.
Not everyone spoiled for choice acts like the two people above. Like I said, most of the people I speak to at least have enough empathy to pretend to be concerned. I would bet most of the people genuinely are concerned. Those that aren’t though are troubling because many of our elected officials are already disconnected from us. When we become disconnected from each other it makes it that much harder to hold our representatives accountable, then we all lose out on choice.