On clearing our guilty conscience
I recently wrote an article about things I simply did not understand. I was not attacking anyone or anything; I was merely questioning whether the way I considered certain things in this world was accurate. Imagine my surprise, then, when a friend pointed me to an article in this very paper, viciously attacking my confusion.
I was indeed surprised. I was not helped. In Dylan Suher’s recent article, I was lambasted for not knowing about an issue that does not affect me in any direct way and one that I had publicly asked for help understanding. Instead of doing what anyone who cared to have his view heard in a rational matter would do, which would be to help his fellow man, Suher tried to tell me that it was my own fault that I am so ignorant. I do not understand how wanting to fix my ignorance is the cause of it.
He also included an ad hominem attack that does not merit serious engagement.
I read Suher’s article. While he failed entirely to make a compelling, let alone more than partially cogent argument, it seemed like most of his reasoning in favor of the tomato ban came from white guilt.
I don’t think I would be too incorrect if I said that most of us here, attending Washington University, are pretty well-off. Maybe we’re not Gateses or Buffetts, but we’re certainly not poor people either. And yes, I’m sure there are varying degrees of wealth among the students here, and I would be surprised if a few did not come from poverty, but in general, we’re pretty up there.
It seems to me that people like us—people who have money and things— look around at the world and see that not everyone has as much. This makes us feel guilty, like we don’t deserve what we have. We see other people who are worse off than we are, and without asking why that is, or even if it is true in context, we feel guilty. Why?
I understand wanting to make the world a better place. If it weren’t a better place, it would be a worse place, and no one wants that. However, why must we be brought down? Now, I’m not saying that a lack of tomatoes for a semester is really a big deal. Hell, I hardly even eat them. What I am saying is that certain things are beyond our control, like how much money our parents make.
It seems to me that there’s no sense in wishing things that we can’t control were different. That seems like just a waste of time. So how about this: When we see that we have stuff and other people don’t, we remember that they’re trying to get stuff too. Nobody’s forcing them to do anything. They’re not telling us how we should live. Why should we tell them how to?