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Kenneth Kales Headshot

Civil Rights Activists Stand Up to Snobs

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The sound of protestors for economic justice resonates as distinctively as a heartbeat with those who can hear heartbeats. This brings up two questions. What are the protestors about? And, why can some hear them and others cannot?

The protestors are about class discrimination. They are standing up for themselves and for you, me and billions of others around the world. Classism is as cruel a bigotry as any other discrimination. It isn't just race, creed, or color where this stench can seep in, it also includes economic standing. Because the culture of classism has brought our nation to this disgraceful point of bigotry, people seeking justice -- protestors, are rising up. Look through history and call the perpetrators what you wish: the gentry, the land owners, the slave owners, the chauvinists, the monarchists, the horse and carriage trade, the banana republic, the upper class, the corporate board.

Those with a voice are at long last causing a scene over what many of you and I have been saying through our computers, to each other, or under our breaths. They are bringing your indignation against economic injustice to the streets. Its messy, they have to go to the bathroom, sleep and eat in public while we do it in private. Consider them our proxy vote.

No society can sustain itself with an upper class increasingly distancing itself from those lower on the economic ladder. That is what is happening in our country. Have you lost your job? Gone through your retirement accounts? Borrowed from family? Struggled to make the mortgage or rent on time this month and months prior? Have you skipped meals?

The fact is almost all of us have to varying degrees. Factually speaking, more Americans since the Great Depression, a Gallup poll reported 19 per cent now, have a hard time putting food on the table. More people with health insurance are going without medical care that requires an out of pocket expense. And even more are going without health insurance. More home foreclosures occurred last month than in recent time -- some experts say the increase was possibly a seasonal adjustment.

These experts, many on government, university, or corporate salaries, agree on at least one thing though and that is the economic recovery is rocky. But we can't worry about that. We're too busy trying to figure out our next move until we feel the wind in our sails again. We pray each night for those winds to return. The protestors are praying for that wind. We do it in private, they do it in public. The shame and embarrassment of struggling doesn't bother them like it used to, or like it might still bother you and me. They've already lost what we are still managing to hang on to.

Cruel economic discrimination, classism, is at last being more openly challenged during our lifetimes. It is a civil rights movement. They are euphemistically burning their bras as women did in a stage of their movement for equality, and they are refusing to sit in the back of the bus as Blacks did in a stage of their movement for equality. "Don't judge me by the money in my pocket, judge me by the strength of my character" to rephrase the great Martin Luther King.

Tolerating snobs is bad enough on its own. But when nearly 20 percent of the country is going hungry, the number of those slipping into poverty is increasing, and the middle class is dissolving, we don't need to put up with snobs at all.

Peel away their snobbery and it is easy to see them for what they are: shallow, naive, self-important, and cruel. Their fortunate births, fortunate skill sets, fortunate family support, fortunate mental and physical constitution to not crack under pressure, and other good fortune is responsible for most of what they have financially. Hard work and things of their own doing can account for relatively little of their privilege.

What they don't want to admit, refuse to admit, and live in denial to maintain, is that their financial comfort is due to factors largely out of their control. They were born lucky. We were each born lucky in our own special way. Their genetic lottery won them financial comfort. They pursued their natural gifts and that is what they deserve credit for. And that includes those who started out dirt poor but had the gifts to lift themselves up, the gifts to persevere, the gifts to imagine a better life. What they fail to realize is that everybody is not born with those gifts of fortitude, stamina, disposition and so many other traits innate to them.

Certainly there are plenty of people financially comfortable who are grateful for their blessings. They realize how fortunate they are. They can understand the odds, and show equal respect to people up and down the economic scale.

These protestors represent the classic battle of standing up for ourselves. A financially comfortable person and the many phonies pretending to be, are no better than you and me. Egalitarianism is true. We are all equal in a humanitarian sense and the most honest measure of a person as a success is their depth of character.

If a classless classist looks down their nose at you, tells you to go get a job, tells you that you have no one to blame but yourself, tells you to work harder and you'll end up like them, stand up and tell them they do not comprehend the reality of randomness in life. Tell them that maturing toward accepting self-responsibility is our mandate. Tell them the vast majority of us have been tested and are being tested -- that their insensitivity is evidence that they would fail the tests we have already passed.

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