Sunday, November 13, 2011

Blaming the poor for their condition...

Faced with inexplicable inequalities and injustices in society, and feeling disempowered to challenge the status quo, we have a natural tendency to try and rationalize the situation by assigning blame; the unemployed must be lazy, rape victims were "asking for it" etc. In this way we try to evade the unpleasant prospect that such circumstances could befall any one of us.

Oliver Burkeman describes this phenomenon in his latest Guardian column. However, he mistakenly sees this "just world hypothesis" as a difficulty the Occupy protestors will have to overcome. If the majority of us view the travails of those less well off than ourselves as their just desserts, why bother trying to alter "the system"? In fact, the Occupy movement presents an alternative to the vicious cycle of inequality being reinforced by negative stereotyping of the less fortunate members of society. The Occupy protestors force us all to face up to the injustices, to which we have become - subconsciously or otherwise - desensitized. Perhaps even more significantly, the movement also offers a voice of empowerment and the prospect that such inequalities are not inevitable.

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