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writing for godot

US, the book, Part 6, Defining US, & About those Prejudiced

Written by Tom Cantlon   
Friday, 19 March 2021 08:29

This is a section of the book:


Everything is Done By US

We Can Make it For US

by Tom Cantlon


The list of links to chapters can be found at:


This time, two chapters, defining who are part of US and who aren't, and where those who are prejudiced belong in that definition.



Who Are Part of US, and Who Aren't


So who exactly is included in US? Very roughly speaking, US are darn near all of US, almost all of the people, the regular work-a-day people. The only ones who are not part of US are people who have enough powerful influence to be harmful to US, and who actually do things harmful to US. So does that mean everyone who is rich or who is influential is not part of US? Is it that kind of "US against them"? Not at all.

The rich and the powerful can be part of US, if they will be. The skilled CEOs who can run a big corporation are part of the team. We need all of the positions, from top to bottom, all of the people doing their jobs for things to run well. Someone who rises to great wealth by legitimate means and who is not busy trying to use that wealth and influence to squeeze those of lesser income just so the person at the top can have even more, someone of wealth who is fully on-board with the average worker getting the full value of their work, by all means, they're part of US. Wealth and influence are not the dividing lines.

The dividing line has more to do with those who would endlessly squeeze lower earners to get more for themselves. Those with no regard for others getting the full rewards that they should.

There are two ways that kind of disregard for others can show up. One is simple greed and indifference. The other is people who have a particularly low opinion of US. That is, people who think that there is some huge percentage of US who are lazy and living fat and happy off of food stamps or short-term unemployment checks (as if). Their attitude leads to business groups and legislators wanting to change the rules so that unemployment checks end even sooner. They think that, no doubt, people are refusing to take jobs because they're having too much fun on their tiny unemployment checks, so let's cut them off because surely they are such lowly people that that's the only way to get them to work. Both kinds of disrespect for US result in actions that harm US.

That attitude of disrespect is one aspect of it. The other aspect is being in a position to actually do something about it, being someone who either makes laws and rules or can strongly influence them, and being someone who uses that influence to harm those who have less income or influence.

That aspect of having exceptional power to harm others is important because, someone who is just an ignorant S.O.B. who wishes open racism was legal again, but who is just an ignorant individual working to get by, and isn't part of any active supremacist group by night, is still one of US. An ignorant, loathsome member, but still having the right to their ignorant opinion, and still one of US. If they become head of even a modest size company and refuse to hire anyone but their own race, or purposely hire people who are easily intimidated so they can underpay them, then they would become someone who is not one of US.

It's possible for people to not be aware they are working against US. If, say, they have a large company and they lobby their representative to pass some proposed tax break and don't realize it gives the big companies an unfair advantage and hurts the mom and pop shops. Or someone has actually convinced them it would be a favor to unemployed people to kick them off of unemployment benefits, and they lobby for that. For some, just being a little more aware might make the difference, but in the meantime they are using their influence in ways that harm US.


Defining "working people"

In this book, references to US are often mixed interchangeably with references to working people, but "working people" is a much broader group than it might at first seem. It includes people currently working a job, people looking for work, those training for some future work, those on an extended break from work because they've earned the ability to do that, people who work just enough at jobs to get by because they have other non-paid work they feel is important, like pursuing their artistic passion or volunteering in all sorts of ways, people rich enough to not have to work but who choose to make themselves constructive parts of the community, people pursuing a life of spirituality because that's how they think they can do the most good, the retired who've completed their work-life, and the stay-at-home spouses who chose to focus on raising the kids well and other family goals. It also includes those who are our people: our children, our disabled family and relations, our elderly. Working people, in this broader sense, means darn near everyone.


The actively prejudiced

People who are not just prejudiced but are serious supremacists or some other "my tribe only" group are also not part of US. It makes for another fuzzy dividing line, but it's important, and here's why.

Someone who is fearful of the unknown and just doesn't know what to make of people of other colors or other cultures, or someone who used to find their town full of people just like them and now it has a lot of "others" and it's just less comfortable to them, or someone who was raised prejudiced, is just that, simply prejudiced. Subtle prejudice is something many of US have been raised with. We may find some of it within ourselves no matter who we are or what our background is. It's something most of US would like to grow out of when our eyes are open to seeing it in ourselves.

On the other hand there are those who actively want a nation that is flatly not about democracy or rights. They want a nation that is simply tribal, and run of, by, and for themselves and people of their group. Once someone joins a group or actively tries to turn the nation into one that is just for some people, they're into very un-American ideas, ideas that are against US and against American principles.


So, those who are not part of US are those of simple greed or those with an ignorant superior attitude and who are in positions to harm us, and those who are pursuing a clearly un-American system.

The rest are US: the noble and not so noble, saints and sinners, wealthy and poor, those of a strong mind and stable emotions and upbringing that gave them discipline and drive, and those of unclear mind, roller-coaster emotions, and bad influences, but who can, and do, earn their keep. Plus those who have worse problems and are flat out incapable of earning their keep, and we carry them, because they are ours. They're part of US. US includes those who are very industrious, and the surf-bum who does just enough odd jobs to support their hobby, but who legitimately does earn their keep.

US are everyone who isn't trying to prevent regular people getting what they're due.

Those who are working against US by power and influence or by hatred are not US.




Prejudice, the Ins and Outs, and Identity Politics


Prejudice against any ethnicity, skin color, gender of all variations, sexual preference, or any other group just for who they are is immoral, deserving of our anger, enormously damaging, and ignorant.

At the same time we are not going to get rid of all those who are prejudiced or cure them all tomorrow, and it's going to take all of US to achieve making the country for US. Like it or not, US includes prejudiced people.


Identity politics

Identity politics is a term used to describe when any group who are being harmed try to end the damage being done to them. They might be a group by skin color or gender or sexual preference, or just a group who have been taken advantage of, like low-wage workers, or a more specific group like home care workers or hotel room cleaners. Some people are critical of focusing on identity politics issues because they think it splinters US from working together. Others feel it's necessary as the only way to end problems encountered by this or that group. We need both. We need to work together to have the leverage for broad change, and we need to make sure each group that's being harmed has that stop. There's no need to choose one way or the other.

The whole point of making the country be for US is just that, for it to be for all of US. The work that we do to make the country be for US cannot be separated from the work that we do to end inequality. They have to go together. We need the country to be for US, and at the same time to gain equality for every slighted group, to have the damage against them ended, and to restore absolutely equal status. Equal not just in concrete tangible things like equal pay, but also in respect. Not just status as a group tolerated to be here, or even as a nicely treated subgroup, but full status to be just as able to be in positions of leadership. A country that is for almost all of US but is not for this or that group, has not achieved becoming a nation for US.

Actually, there can be no separating of these two goals. Consider a black woman as an example. She would identify as black and participate in efforts to end unequal treatment of black people, but at the same time she's a member of a subgroup within that. She's a woman. She would participate in efforts to end unequal treatment of women. She wouldn't give up pursuing one goal while she works on the other. In fact, it would do her little good to succeed in ending one kind of damage while she continues to suffer the other kind. In the same way we cannot just focus on raising the status of most of US but ignore the prejudice against any subgroup. We need to be clear, and keep it prominently clear, that making things right for US means making things right for all of US. If we improve things for many of US but not for those of US of color or those of US who are women or those of US who are gay or whatever group, then we haven't really made the nation for US.

White people have often participated in efforts to end prejudice against skin color. If you look back on photos of marches and rallies led by Martin Luther King Jr. and other notable leaders of that civil rights era, you'll see plenty of white people in the mix. And you can look up the numbers on the overwhelming majority of men who support the equal rights amendment for women. That's who we need to be, those people who pull for one another. It's the only way we can achieve success for US.


The prejudiced as part of US

Prejudice can be separated into intentional and unintentional. Almost all of us have at least some small amount of prejudice. For many of us, though, it's something we don't like about ourselves and we try to change it when we see it arise in ourselves. If that's all the prejudice there was, it would be a much smaller problem and one we would improve on over time.

Then there are those who are intentionally prejudiced, strongly prejudiced, actively prejudiced. Even short of those who openly spout white nationalist or similar hatred are those who are actively prejudiced in how they live and have no desire to change that. People who won't hire or rent to or deal with any but what they think is their own kind. F… them. They deserve our anger. The damage they do is so monumental we can't begin to wrap our heads around it.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of them and, as noted, we can't get rid of them or change them in a hurry. They are part of US. We are a flawed bunch. There are plenty of US who are members of the groups who are slighted, who are the targets of prejudice, yet who are prejudiced themselves. It's understandable when a member of a group who is held down is prejudiced against the group doing the holding down, but it still does tremendous damage. But plenty of times it doesn't even make sense, like when a member of one slighted group, for unexplainable reasons, is prejudiced against members of another slighted group. Prejudice shows up in all of our subgroups and comes in all flavors.

But even looking beyond just prejudice, many of US who don't have that particular sin have other sins against other people. Many of US have flaws in how we treat our families, our relationships, in our shortcomings in honesty. It's human. Some of US do much better than others, but we can't make a nation that is only of, by, and for the nearly flawless. It is precisely we humans, flaws and all, who have the right to make our own nation to be of, by, and for US. All of US.

Keep in mind that prejudice may get worse under worse conditions. People who work against US getting our full due create conditions that, in turn, lead some of US, those of shaky principles, to turn to prejudice as a way to make sense of the world. It gives people who are frustrated a target to direct their frustration at. Working to regain our proper power and full respect may lessen the pressure to resort to prejudice.

What does it mean to accept that some of US are prejudiced as we work to regain our proper power? It does not mean that we should tolerate their prejudice. We should still counter-rally against rallies for racial supremacy or whatever kind of hatred is being pushed. We should still counter it in private conversations when someone says something that's prejudiced. Hate their hatred or pray for them or whatever you're inclined to do. But even from among those who voted in the past for candidates spouting prejudice, those people can still, now, be part of US, if they will. They can be part of our refocusing the nation for US.

It doesn't mean they can have their ideas in some platform of demands by US. It doesn't mean racial supremacists or any other prejudice group can march as a group with their banners and literature in our parade. We don't need to tolerate their hatred, and yet those who are prejudiced can work with US on those areas where we have common goals, like economic issues that affect US all.

It's a gray, muddy problem, trying to completely reject prejudice, yet we need US to be all of US to succeed. There is no clean answer. It's just one more way the damn people who are openly prejudiced make a mess of things. What we can do is err toward rejection. We need their votes and their support to move our common goals forward, like better pay for all, but any time it gets tangled up with their prejudice, forget it. Better to move slower, but without that sin.

It's just one of the more embarrassing and darker aspects of human nature that, like it or not, the prejudiced are part of US.



The working peoples' share has been steadily declining. The division of income between owners and workers has been tracked, officially, as declining for decades. It could be used as a key tool to measure, and then guide, policies to optimize it, just as we do with inflation. your social media marketing partner
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