556. Transcending Inequality One at a TimeA story of how to be the starting point of getting past social and economic statuses through changing our relationships towards one another
I read the following article today Commercialisation: the antithesis of sharing
by Mohammed Mesbahi and I find some supportive aspects he looks at when it comes to realizing that the obstacle to sharing are our individual desires to succeed at whatever cost above others, above nature, above common sense and how this way of thinking in a very egotistical manner has permeated into the nature of commerce itself, in how we exchange goods and services and so the nature of the system as we see it and live it on a daily basis.
I’d like to share a more personal perspective and experience as a way to walk through a potential solution in the seemingly realm of the ‘impossible’ when it comes to stopping the current nature of this system – which is entirely OUR human nature embodied in the ‘nature of the system in itself’ - so that one can consider the effect that we can have within the decision to stand in certain living principles and decide to take on processes of self-change that precisely stop the antagonism, the fight, the constant hidden sense of blame towards ‘a few’ in the system as the only culprits to where we are currently in this massive inequality, because! It always takes two to tango and so we are all equally responsible for what’s here.
Invariably so, whatever consequences we face from this economic-outflow as damages are the ultimate wakeup call – just like any other consequence – for us to start looking back at ourselves as the source of the problem and so realizing the solutions we can embody if we also decide to put on some of our very own
If I look at what I had to deconstruct and redefine within myself individually through walking this process with Desteni in order to embrace the equality of all people and all things – therefore of everything that’s here – I have to first start off by saying how it’s not as easy to simply ‘speak the words’ and right away live such equality as life. There are massive layers of mental conditioning that were accepted and allowed by myself throughout my entire life based on the totality of my environment, family, social and economic context, information, education that I made my own and that I learned to start acting out on as a young person in this world.
An example is how in my early teens upon having access to magazines and some ads on TV, I was starting to get very much focused on wearing certain brands on my clothes, being quite ‘picky’ in relation to the social and economic status of the people I would be friends with and generally being more cautious and concerned about the role that money plays in creating relationships between people, in choosing friendships, in choosing where to go and hang out in or what one can afford to buy as clothes, entertainment, trips, luxury time, restaurants and the rest of it.
At the time – and this being when I was 12 or 13 years old – that was a source of insecurity as well when being in a school where people with a good amount of money went too as well. I am quite aware that my parents did their best to keep me grounded and not be impressed by the amount of money I saw some peers had, but ultimately it does affect one when not being ‘equal’ in that sense, especially during my early teenager years where upon seeing that I could not ‘follow up’ with their lifestyles or feel that I could ‘fit in’ entirely according to their hobbies, their likes and preferences and ‘affording’ them, a resignation emerged within me where I simply ‘gave up’ even trying to ‘fit in’ in certain groups of people. I’ve never been in a rich family, yet was fortunate enough to have access to very decent education which I am also grateful for, but that came also with witnessing quite an array of lifestyles that I simply was not going to even ‘try’ and match because I simply couldn’t and eventually I made myself entirely believe that I didn’t want it either.
In that ‘resignation’ also came a definition of myself as ‘never being able to reach a higher economic status’ and so, building a sense of resentment towards those that were ‘richer’ than me, where I used intellect as a way to compensate for what I perceived was a ‘lack’ of traits that these other people had, like the money, the looks, the expensive things, the access to things and places that I simply gave up on even trying to get or fit into, which was entirely my decision as well because I am aware my sisters – having been in the exact same family context as I was – managed quite well to be part of that and not having to exist in an ‘urge’ to have more money or anything like that, which was cool. But in my case I became more like the critical-eye to the lifestyles of my peers, demeaning them, judging them and being over-critical on what they would spend money on. The interesting thing is I made friends with them as well and as much as we could relate to each other as ‘human beings’ and ‘peers at school’ there was always an underlying point of separation based on me not precisely ‘having’ that which most of them had in terms of money and common lifestyles.
The bottom line is that I allowed this money-factor to determine ‘who I am’ in relation to others while going through junior high and high school, wherein as much as I could get along with everyone, I also in a very subconscious and conscious manner separate myself from them ‘by default’ due to the money-factor being an ever present point of comparison within me. And I have to say that I masked this quite well by taking a more critical eye to all things capitalism and the sheer desire for money and going into the judgment of it all as being ‘bad’ or ‘selfish’ as well, which I would blurt out at any opportunity I could.
I created a form of resentment towards money itself as well because I simply went into the resignation of ‘never’ in my life possibly been able to get to have their position, their status, their family benefits and the rest of it, which fueled more my antagonistic personality in which I gained a sense of power through in fact feeling powerlessness and inferiority/being less than when standing next to people that I knew had a lot of money, even denying the possibility of me having a boyfriend at the time of such friendship circles due to me believing that I was simply ‘not equal’ to them and at the same time, yep! There were some cases where some may have arranged relationships and marriages between ‘similar families’ to re-create the same elites they’ve always been a part of. Now that I look back at this it’s quite funny that I got to see firsthand how elitism works within a school context and how I accepted and allowed myself to get affected by it because I frankly saw it as impossible for me to ‘stand fully equal’ to the power of money that others portrayed in ‘who they are’ as personalities, as the stuff they own, as the positions they had in society, which I consider is entirely the same process that we all get conditioned through with either being on the ‘have’ or ‘have not's side.
So, what I am aiming at here is looking at how each one of us recreates the acceptance and allowance of inequality through accepting and allowing money to define ‘who we are’ and so proceed to assess that one is ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ to others for example in the context of ‘who has more or less money.’ And I’m also aware that not every single person defined themselves according to the money they had, maybe to some of them it was just a second skin they could not differentiate themselves from to the extent that there was no reflection upon it.
But in my case it did become a silent source of inadequacy, questioning and resenting elitism – while I made it quite a part of myself as well through judging, criticizing and antagonism out of spite - and at the same time creating a denial to ever conceive that ‘I could ‘belong’ to that’ – yet, would I have actually wanted to be part of that? At the time it wasn’t really so, but who knows if I had been born in what I call a ‘golden crib’? I bet it’s quite hard to distinguish ‘what’s normal’ or ‘the standard’ when all that you’ve ever lived in is comfort, luxury, benefits, VIP status wherever you go and frankly, I consider it will take a long time for all of these points to change, because it actually begins with us debunking the notion that money gives us ‘power’ to our persona, that we become in fact ‘more’ with the more money or control over others we get to have, and because we get so used to the comfort that money brings and because ultimately, we all would like a good and comfortable lifestyle, the problems are the extremes in it all where we’d have to learn how to be moderate yet not judge money as ‘evil’ in itself, but see through that veil to continue working on our potentials, on or purposes, what we can do in order to benefit more of life with money, instead of continuing to recreate the same parasitical patterns fueled by ego-driven desires.
I have also been on the side of directly creating hatred to a fellow peer in school – that later on became a good friend of mine by the way – where I would challenge his ‘wits’ that I considered were the result of having lived in a business family where he already was ‘hard wired’ to think in money and business-making ways, where he knew that getting more money wasn’t about ‘wishing money’ and that’s it – he understood that it all starts with creating the relationships, having the motivation of yes ‘making money’ but creating a suitable ideas for businesses.
At the time in my teenage years, I was getting to be more conscious/aware of capitalism and the system in itself, where I became his faithful opponent whenever he’d speak out his opinion that was geared to seeking this personal benefit through actions that would ultimately lead to ‘winning,’ to ‘being successful’ even if that meant stepping on top of others. One can imagine this kind of back and forths during class discussions over readings like ‘The Art of War’ and how I could simply have a hard time conceiving having to consider so many difficult moves in order to ‘win’ over someone else and me questioning that, which yes ultimately turned out to be quite ‘naïve’ when it comes to knowing ‘the ways of the world’ at the time.
I also had a very moral-based view on life at the time, where I was placing myself in this ‘good side’ of the equation, while not even being aware how we in fact have to consume life every single moment in order to exist and I didn’t even consider that as a factor that outflows into this world-enslavement that we’ve co-created, yet I was very quick to judge his Machiavellian ways and challenge his positions in what would end up in heated back and forths in front of the whole class. I definitely am aware I wanted to debase him and treated him as if he was only an egotistical rich dude that I had to expose at the eyes of everyone else, but eventually we walked a very realistic forgiveness process in our mutual relationship over time.
Situations happened in his life where somehow he probably realized how some of his views were separating him from more and more people – as in being disliked, hated, etc. - and he started being more considerate, flexible and that’s when we actually started having constructive discussions where we eventually found a common ground and I could learn more from how he was ‘wired’ to look at things in his mind, which was quite awesome by the way in how he could look at solutions and ways to ‘move’ reality to create a particular outcome.
In the school context, I was able to then take advantage of his skills and ways to even relate to teachers and we’d work in teams together when it came to school projects and such, it was quite the collaboration for our two last years of high school where I knew my ‘strengths’ and I knew his and we’d made a good team to get things done in a win-win way – which of course in school terms translates into good grades or passing exams and projects etc.
So I share this because it was quite a cool process to walk through after having had some two previous years of constant conflict with each other. But in order to create that, we both had to work with our personal issues as prejudices or points to transcend – like perceptions and opinions about each other - that had been primarily shaped according to and through money, defined according to his family name and social position and my own which was of a regular middle-class person that had to let go of a sense of inferiority towards him in order to start rather appreciating and developing more awareness on who he really was as an individual, behind this ‘façade’ that I had always seen him through which ‘oozed’ superiority at my eyes and possibly at the eyes of others. I had to apply humbleness and I know for a fact he did as well.
Later on I got to know who he was in a more in-depth manner which was actually very different to the myriad of prejudices or ‘first impressions’ that I had gotten from having heard a few of his opinions about just anything he could express, which I guess bothered me so much because they also reflected back to myself how opinionated I became to ‘counter act’ him and so, it was eventually kind of interesting how similar we ended up being when stepping out of our own egos. From ‘hating’ each other’s’ guts, we got to appreciate each other as friends and collaborators at the time.
Even though I had shared about this friendship in blogs before, it’s certainly the first time that I bring through the dimension of money, social status, ego and power as a reason for me to exist in a form of ‘inferiority’ towards him, while I also got to discover how he got to ‘make up for’ certain more personal inferiorities through the power, connections, relationships he could build through and with money itself. I actually got to see this more ‘real’ aspect within a few people in the same environment, and I had not reflected how interesting that part of my life was when it comes to being able to see people for ‘who they are’ as equals to me, with the same kind of ‘personal problems’ or insecurities, yet how the notion of money or certain status became a veil for me to see them as ‘unequal’ and ultimate a way for some to ‘cope’ with more personal issues – which is the same that I did with using intellect as a way to compensate for my sense of inferiority in terms of the ‘lack’ of money compared to others or how I didn’t have the ‘perfect looks’ and how I didn’t aspire to become a super-rich person as I initially thought I had to do when I had some ideas earlier on in my life of becoming a financial advisor and follow through that same kind of lifestyle that I saw others were aspiring or already having around me.
The greatest thing from this all is that I could see people through the façade, through the amount of money in their wallets or awaiting for them through their family, and I got to see who they really were as fellow teenagers, struggling with the same peer-pressure that we all collectively created towards one another and that it would only be through a directive decision within ourselves to ‘let go’ of those superficial values to really establish a point of equality, a common ground - even if not ‘in its totality’ - at least as a way to establish a consideration towards others and not just focus on ‘oneself.’
Who knows, this might also in my case be a result of having been in a Jesuit school that did inculcate some of those ‘serving others’ principles in various practical ways, which I am sure my peers also got to learn from and I realize that as much as I had initially despised the whole ‘set up’ in that school, I got to test myself in very specific ways in there when it comes to being in the midst of how elitism is brewed, inculcated and ‘knitted’ through relationships that begin in a simple place such as a classroom and how they build up to become the very people and relationships that later on stand interconnected in leadership positions in businesses, politics and schooling systems which continue shaping these specific circles of concentrated power from generation to generation.
So, what can I learn from this? What is the actual key to start ‘rewiring’ the fabric of our unequal society? It’s definitely not going to be through expecting people in elitist positions to sacrifice their benefits. My friend always let me know that he wanted to do good but of course with also getting his big piece of the cake along with it all, and I found this as acceptable because I knew that him and people like him would never give up the privileges that they have for the benefit of the majority. However there was an emergence of a consideration to not be so ‘obsessive’ about power, to create some modesty and moderation around it while also considering something that is beneficial or for ‘the greater good’ and that being linked to a purpose in his life. This is the last thing I got to know of from him some years ago when I last saw him after several years of having last been together in high school. And the key here is to understand what he decided to go through in order to ‘moderate’ his very ingrained ‘power-seeking’ ways, and that was linked to a personal process where he saw himself devoid of purpose in life, going to therapies to ‘seek the meaning of life’ and assisting himself with regular visits to psychologists, it’s commendable that he sought his ways.
It was then that I understood how maybe people like him are more common than I thought, people that may ‘have it all’ but still seek a meaning to their lives or lose a ‘sense’ for their lives even though anyone else would crave to be in their financial position as well. He didn’t stop having some political and business aspirations at a bigger scale, but those aspirations included doing something that’s beneficial for people, creating something of quality and common good that gives him sufficient money to live well off, but at the same time without leaving others aside from his plan. And I consider that this is the kind of self-change that we can encourage within each other whenever we have an opportunity to do so, through personal example in our relationship with others.
I’d like to think that I may have influenced his potential to see outside of the box he had been entirely geared to and consider greater benefits, but ultimately that would be my own self-interest speaking. I frankly have not established any contact with him as of late, but I made a deal with him that if he’d become part of the local politics as some of his family members did, that he’d call me to create some social projects to assist people in learning more about themselves, their mind, their ability and capacity to live better within themselves, while also considering ways in which people can both contribute economically to a society and benefit directly from the fruit of that cooperation, without the fear of losing a job, without the ‘barely making it through’ experience and limitation. That’s yet to be seen J but hey! at least I had the idea and he got to know how serious I was with all that I dedicate my life to.
Therefore, I consider we have a great lesson to share here, me and in the name of that friend of mine where we both had to step aside from our social/economic conditioning in order to find the common ground and a middle ground as well where I am not ‘battling against’ people in higher social statuses or continually criticizing them as reckless and egotistical, because I also got to be aware of how it takes hard work to build any long-lasting successful business and so, long-lasting source of money as well. The problem is surely when a never-quenching thirst for money/power and control ensues in an individual and that’s where the personal moderation and measure comes in, and that can only be a very individual decision that maybe each one of us could influence or affect through sharing stories like this or decisions we’ve made within ourselves to stop defining ‘who we are’ through the amount or ‘value’ of things we own, or what we dress or look like or the amount of money we have in our bank accounts – while also stopping ‘fighting’ against a perceived ‘reckless’ elite, but instead find ways to cooperate, one by one, to stop the antagonism and rather use each one’s strengths to collaborate and create a more sustainable system where we can forge win-win solutions.
This is then how I’ve also decided to no longer fuel that personality that stands as an apparent ‘victim’ at the hands of the ‘all powerful ones,’ because once you get to know people like that, you can’t really keep up a straight face and not acknowledge their effort, their focus and dedication to get what they have. Ultimately, we are all equally responsible for the way that we currently function and operate in the system, we cannot blame others that were clever enough and possibly had some intrinsic ‘wiring’ to think in business-terms while some of us were more ‘slow’, ‘detached’ and judgmental when it comes to money, because of not understanding it as a life-enabler but still seeing it as an ‘evil’ that we had to get rid of, which is something I surely will still have to work on in my own life in order to equalize myself to money in all ways, to use it in a way that can benefit more people and at the same time dissolve any remnant of ‘inferiority’ and ‘superiority’ based on my past experiences in certain social-circles and situations where the ‘money factor’ was a source of inferiority for me.
And this, my friends, is precisely what I see we all are aware of, we all can ‘feel it’ and ‘be it’ at a very silent agreement, this intrinsic inequality and separation that we’ve created toward one another through the eyes of money, of social status, of ‘positions’ in society with our peers, in our day to day lives and with new people we meet.
So! That’s where focusing on who we are as equals, getting past the notions of money, status, richness and poverty comes in - without fighting it or desiring it - but instead understanding the current consequence in which we all are currently existing in within this ‘monopoly game’ that we can also one by one and so collectively start recreating into an ‘Equapoly’ game and learn to use each other’s’ strengths to cooperate in creating a more best for all scenario in terms of our world economy; it is possible, and I’ve just shared how it boils down to the very kind of relationships and people and purpose that we decide to cultivate within our lives and so in our societies.
Let’s never underestimate the power that standing by principles has even in the face of the seemingly ‘stubborn and righteous’, we all have that same potential to wake up and change, starting with and focusing on ourselves first and living forgiveness towards others and our consequences, learning to work together and focusing on doing and creating what’s best for all.
Thanks for reading.