I have a few close friends who are from a different socio-economic background than myself. A few years ago, I asked my friend whether she is envious of the opportunities I get in life. She says no, she is not envious of me because from her perspective, I have a different starting point than her so it's not worth comparing but she is envious/jealous of people from her elementary school or others whose background is similar to hers. That was a pretty interesting perspective to me. I think I am envious of people who have a better starting point than me. I'm envious precisely because the starting point is different whereas my friend is not envious when starting point is not the same.
It reminds me of the time a friend had cited that viral video where someone dressed like a homeless person and pretended to faint at a metro but no one tried to help him but when that person dressed smartly and pretended to faint, many people came to help. The video narrator, and my friend, concluded that this is evidence that people are biased and discriminate based on people's socio-economic status. I don't agree, at least not intentionally. As a pedestrian, I might not help someone who dressed like a homeless person because his problem is more than what I can handle. A homeless person's problem is not merely of sending him on a cab to go back home or to the hospital or calling loved ones. It's a lot more complicated. In order to "save" a homeless person who is fainting, you would have to take full responsibility for another adult's livelihood. Thus, I don't think it's fair to judge random pedestrians for only trying to help someone who's well dressed verses someone who dressed like a homeless person. The difference is not just in the appearance, it is the connotation of what it involves. We want to be productive and impactful and know that our efforts matter. The complications in helping a stranger whose needs are more than a cab ride somewhere is too much to expect from a random pedestrian.
Applying this sentiment further, some people are upset that the same people that are so keen on helping refugees of Ukraine were unhelpful towards to refugees of Syria or Yemen. Is it racism? Is it just due to colour of the skin? I don't think it is that simple. Location obviously matters. Do you get mad at people for volunteering to help homeless people in their cities instead of homeless people in other countries? We obviously try to help those in closer proximity to us because it is easier for us. It is easier for us to take a few metro stops to volunteer at a homeless shelter versus taking a plane to a foreign country to volunteer to save the homeless people there. To be sure, it is obviously important for some of us to make that leap and be generous to those outside of our comfort zone but I am sympathetic to volunteers who are more comfortable in trying to help those who are in closer proximity. One might argue that it is our job to learn more about other people's suffering. I draw parallels where some LGBTQIA activists have high expectations of the public to understand their sufferings. Unless you have a friend who's part of that community, it is difficult to expect someone to learn all about it, in the same way how most people wouldn't suddenly learn all about down syndrome unless they know someone who has that condition.
I would also love to live in a society where people are treated equal and we can demand that of random strangers but our life in 21st century is obviously becoming a lot more sophisticated and complicated. How much knowledge does a person have to consume and how many people's feelings do they need to consider in every decision they make? Certain words we can no longer use because it is politically incorrect or emotionally triggering for some. People are 'cancelled' for using these words or taking actions that cause harm to others. It's as if people are guilty of being a bad person even when everyone agrees that this person probably did not appreciate the potential harm it can caused. It is like intention does not matter anymore. We expect people to know better, if they made a mistake because they did not have the right information, they are guilty because they should have known. It is a crime to be ignorant. I guess ignorance is no longer bliss. Were we always not tolerant of people's ignorance? Is our ability to be compassionate reduced over time?