A friend of mine told me that one of the owners of the business she works for made a comment in regard to six Coast Live Oaks (Quercus Agrifolia) growing around the main building on the property.
The statement was along the lines of ~
“Each of these trees costs me $14,000 in upkeep and the crew still doesn’t care for them properly.”
Two thoughts before I attempt to unpack ~ I love plants. What I’m about to talk about has nothing to do with oak trees.
The statement illustrates a disconnect in priority, awareness and ~ I would argue ~ empathy.
The person who said this is a multimillionaire and has been for decades. The person to whom they were speaking is squarely middle class, working in service to upper middle class and wealthy patrons for many years.
In my mind it is obviously insensitive, rude even, to make such a comment from a perspective of privilege to someone who is magnitudes less privileged. Particularly when the 6 trees in question are a larger yearly investment than the human in question.
This disconnect is at the crux of a general problem I perceive throughout western culture, which is particularly pronounced in the United States. The issue is symptomatic of supposed ‘free market capitalism’ and the way it relies on a form of sociopathology – whose nature, in this case – is the ability to separate oneself from other people based on self conceived standing and worthiness and the way wealth magnifies the concept of such separation.
For the sake of my goal in this relatively brief missive, I am going focus on the crux. How to encourage an increase in the sum total of empathy with the interest of beginning to bridge gaps between us?
One swift route to fostering empathy is by exposure. We become separated circumstantially and ~ willfully or otherwise ~ by remaining within our respective bubbles. In theory the internet could function as a connective forum for a variety of backgrounds and it often does … unfortunately in the past decade it seems to function just as well in exacerbation of the differences between us by allowing the option ‘existing’ only in those virtual environments that support our own views.
Large scale solutions to this difficulty feel both daunting and amorphous.
I suppose those of us who think on this should just continue casting resources and thoughts out into the void with the hope they may be picked up by the outstretched minds of other reaching souls.
As with many of my writings, the thoughts above remain in development. I place them here with a mind toward circling back in one way or another down the road.
In the meantime, some questions have sprung to mind ~
At what point does wealth become superfluous?
The wealthy have the potential energy to enact vast positive change. How often is vast human cost and damage enacted instead?
Who does it benefit, aside from the wealthy, to allow the wealthy various methods of tax avoidance?
What is the root cause behind the fact that our government is not representative?
What is the further psychological implication of attachment to wealth and fear of ‘losing it’? (thinking of Laura Dern’s character in Season 2 of Big Little Lies ~ “I will NOT not be rich!!!”
As I wrap this section of the post I am afflicted with visions of a Scrooge MacDuck style vault measuring contest.
This week I am reading ~
‘We Only Find Them When They’re Dead’ ~ Al Ewing
‘Down at the Cross’ ~ James Baldwin
Weird Walk IV ~ Imbolc 2021
‘Riot Herbalism’ ~ Melissa Madara
I am listening to ~
Julien Baker ~ Little Oblivions
Soft People ~ Heaven
I am watching ~
‘High Fidelity’ ~ Zoe Kravitz version on Hulu…for the second time…episode 5 is particularly stellar.
An obscure detail I find interesting ~
I am convinced New Order’s ‘Temptation’ heavily influenced The Handsome Furs’ ‘All We Want Baby Is Everything’
Anyone else feel this?
Take a listen:
Normally scheduled programming resumes tomorrow, so this week will be a back to back of post 40 and 41 on the mirror. It’s been a year already. Thank you for being here! More to come.