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I am entirey uninterested in whatever it is you are talk about.  Excuse me while I cuddle.

Bringing it Back Down to Reality…Sort Of

I know what you’re thinking. Dear Magic California Roll, not another philosophical post. Please make it stop. But this one is different! I promise. I’m leaving the world of high philosophy and returning to world of getting shit done. Or at least the world of how shit gets done. By people with privilege. Okay, I lied, its another philosophical post. But I tried and that must count for something right?

Working towards social justice (however defined) can be tricky business if (like me) you’re swimming in a boatload of privilege. The problem is that oftentimes when we try to *help* someone, we end up doing what we think is best for them in the way we prefer rather than what *they* think is best for themselves in the way they prefer.

I saw this most profoundly when I was young. Each summer I was required (as part of the Christian sect I belonged to) to volunteer with various chartable organizations. One summer my parents thought it would be an “object lesson” to send to me volunteer at what was called “a home for unwed mothers” but was really where pregnant teenagers were sent to give birth. The young women there were given a room and food (often after being turned out of their own homes for becoming pregnant), but only if they “repented.” Repentance to the sect I belonged to meant humiliating “confessions” to the full congregation of everything they’d done; admitting that they were sinful, disgusting and weak; giving birth even if they preferred otherwise; and giving their child to a “good” Christian family that would prevent that child from repeating the same “mistake.” These homes may have provided basic necessities, but they in no sense *helped* the women unfortunate enough to walk through their doors.

Let me clear, the social organizations I work with today are miles apart from that hellhole.

And yet. I still see the same worrisome perspective. We’ll help, if you accept drug treatment. We’ll help, if you seek counseling. We’ll help, if you choose to leave your abusive partner. We’ll help, if you go back to stay with a blood relative. There are conditions on giving people access to the bare necessities of life and those conditions are connected to what the privileged people in charge think are *best* for those in dire need. more