I was talking to a friend online. She expressed horror that someone could buy food and throw it away without eating it. She is currently at a point in life where… one does not throw away perfectly good food you just spent money on.
I get it. I’ve been there. In some weird ways… I’m kinda still there. If I order a salad and they put fish on it instead of the chicken I’m willing to eat… I eat every bit other than the fish and feel extreme guilt about not eating the fish. It’s not cool to throw away perfectly good protein! But I wasn’t in a space where I could put it in a box and wander around until I found someone who would be willing to eat it. So I threw it away.
I get the existential horror of throwing away food and I get being rich enough that I don’t have to eat all the food I buy.
This is a complicated matter. It plays into health, weight, the right to enjoy eating, as well as financial issues.
She started “When I am rich I will never forget being poor”. It’s true. You don’t forget. Well, I don’t forget. I’m sure there are people who do.
But it is complicated. I tell my children that it is better to throw food away than eat when you do not feel hungry. That’s a militant position I hold. Because my children are unlikely to ever genuinely go hungry. That is a position of staunch privilege.
For me, such issues go along with thoughts about racial issues as well. I tell my children that if they are in trouble, a police officer will probably be fairly reasonable with them. I also tell them that unless they genuinely want a person of color to die, never call the police over an issue with a person of color. It is simply not safe. I tell my children flat out that police officers do bad things and they have legal cover for doing so. Do not invite them into doing more bad things or you share the blame.
To me recognizing where you sit, the world you live in, the choices you have to make… are all tied up. They are tied up in race, privilege, access to help… these things are so big. I’m sure I make mistakes but I’m doing what I can to be a better person.
Not a good person. That’s not a race you ever win. Sometimes I have conversations with people and they tell me defensively, “But I’m a good person.” Bah. Your faves are problematic. I’m problematic. You are problematic too and you don’t want to look at how.
I love you anyway, just so it has been said. It’s ok with me that you fuck up. I’ll probably call you on it if I’m in the room when you do something fucked up… but that won’t change the fact that I love you and think you are important.
I’m trying to learn how to love me. I’m trying to learn how to think I’m important. But I cannot be and never will be more important than anyone else. I will have access to more privilege than most people… that’s not the same thing. Going forward I am going to have an easier life than the vast majority of people who have ever been born.
That doesn’t change that I can be a real piece of shit.
Is someone bad for throwing away food in an area of Oakland nearly blanketed by homeless people? No. But I wouldn’t do it. I would take time out of my schedule and hunt up someone who needs the food more than me. Not because I’m better. Because that is something that is important to me because of my existential issues.
This isn’t a contest. There are people who do far more good in the world than me. I shouldn’t stop doing good things because other people are better. I shouldn’t stop doing good things because other people have more access to privilege and the ability to help than I have. I have to be who I am and where I am.
I’m rich by the measures I would have used as a child. There are still people in this world who would scoff at my “richness” and point out all the things I can’t do at my income bracket. That’s a choice. I choose to stay childlike in this regard. I’m rich. I don’t have “when I get rich” hanging over my head. Sure, I have lottery fantasies… but most of my lottery fantasies revolve around things like college scholarship funds and halfway houses.
I…. don’t actually need more than I have. I have everything I need and more. I have extra. Sure, this year as I hemorrhage money on a house remodel and a trip to the Caribbean and I have surgery and Noah has surgery and…. I could cheerfully find more ways to spend money. I… don’t care. I don’t need more. I’ve paid for this year. Ok, I’ll be paying it off for another few years if you include the house remodel. That is turning out to be kinda brutal. But I’ll pay it off at this income bracket and be jim dandy fine. I’ll wince. I’ll angst. I’ll have feelings… but I’ll be ok. Noah will be ok. My kids college funds will still grow. Shit dude, we are looking at having to come up with new college funds.
And I don’t god damn need more money for it. I’m fucking rich.
So what will I do when I’m rich? I’ll hand off money. Lots of it. Will it make my budgeting more fussy? Yes. But I’m going to do more as the years go by, not less. I’ll find a way to trim my expenses and I don’t need a fancy new car and I will save for years and years before I travel… like I always do.
Because I could be a selfish piece of shit or I can try to make the world a teeny tiny bit better. I’m not rescuing anyone. I’m not solving their problems. I’m saying, “Hey. I see you. I know this is inadequate but it is what I can give right now. Keep trying. You matter.”
It sucks. It isn’t good enough.
I can do what I can to hand off tools in life. Tools that help people find the resources they need that can actually solve their problems. I can’t solve anyone’s problems but mine.
Goodness that sucks. But it is true.
I can’t save Black people from violent police. I can’t be that savior. But I can tell my children not to call the police on people of color. I can choose to not report Black men who do stupid illegal shit in front of me because they aren’t actually hurting me and I don’t need to wreck their lives. I can teach my children that Black Lives Matter and we need to write our congress critters about police reform. I can talk about how we live in a horribly unjust society. I can talk about how much I believe in reparations. The current citizens of this country owe a debt to the people we murdered, enslaved, and removed from their ancestral lands. We can’t pay it back to the folks who are gone. We can just pay their children.
And we need to fucking do it if we want to think of ourselves as a great nation. The longer we build our “greatness” on exploitation, slavery, and murder… we are nasty, disgusting vile creatures. If you think slavery is over: google “Prison inmates on strike” and tell me again that slavery is over.
This is all connected. Having options. Having the ability to “choose” what you “want” to do is… not really a luxury everyone is afforded and it god damn should be.
You shouldn’t have to “when I get rich” fantasize about helping people. It should be something that folks can do. But many really can’t do much because of the circumstances of their lives. They don’t have the time to walk all over and look for someone to take extra food because they are working multiple jobs. They don’t have the money to give it away. They don’t have they don’t have they don’t have…
I am not shaming anyone. I’m really not. I didn’t hand out money like this in the past. I wasn’t so fierce about giving away food. I wasn’t so ready to help when I was poor. I don’t think I am a better person now. I think I am in a different situation with access to different abilities. That doesn’t change how I should be judged.
Maybe the fact that I work harder on my language now is a mark in my favor, but probably not. Maybe that’s a self indulgent thing I do to try and be accepted and loved. Am I really more careful about my language because I’m better or because I am… more hurt by people hating me for existing. I’ve lost my ability to shrug it off.
I know that rich white people are shit. I’m one of them and I know lots more of them and…. yeah. It’s complicated. Are they all shit? Define shit.
Are they all problematic as fuck? Yes. Unequivocally.
Do I hate them? No. I love many of them, tolerate others, and can’t be bothered to think about others.
I have to be willing to think about someone a lot in order to hate them. A lot of the uberprivileged people I know get thought about way the fuck too much and they expect to be centered in the thoughts of people around them because their lives have always worked that way and…. yeah. I’m not going to do that for you. I’m not going to care enough about you to think about you much.
I’m rich enough that I don’t have to.
That’s the piece of being rich that is most important, in my opinion. You no longer have to care that much about the opinions of most people. Unless you are working hard to get richer and you need to suck up to those people. I’m really not about that life. I… understand that other people need to be. I’m sorry.
If I needed to work I’d have different opinions. I’m very sure. I know that my incalcitrant behavior is a function of privilege. God awful, horrible privilege.
I’m sorry for that too. I think such pissiness should be available to everyone. I’m not rich enough to make that possible though. Life fucking sucks.
I’m trying to help where I can. I know it isn’t enough. I know it is fucking pathetic compared to what needs to be done. It is all I can do. I’m sorry.