Inequality, it is true but it can be not
Inequality, the topic that does not get much spotlight in my country for some reasons, grabbed my attention after the first couple weeks that I landed on this country. During my time at Yale, I have been heavily involved into the discussion around inclusiveness and on top of that, inequality. Last week, I even did my ‘Big Issue’ project presentation, talking about how private sectors were contributing to bring changes in the status quo and how they embedded the social missions into their business models.
2 things that I am not going to deny here. 1st, I don’t plan to fight against these data and statistics that are as transparent as I believe they are, indicating varieties of inequality around the globe and the trend as to they’ve been evolving in the past century. There were figures showing how medium income has been exponentially increased at the same time income classes are diverging, there were numbers telling us the flat dramatic delta between male and female occupation in corporate C-suite and also data demonstrating people in colors or minorities have been relatively poorly educated. 2nd, there are for sure a lot of things out there that governments, whose role is a policy maker should take on and, on the other hand, the private sectors, undoubtedly, ought to generate social benefits with capitals. Even though their effectiveness is vital, I do want to put aside it for a while.
What do I want to bring up then? Seems nothing more to discuss here. It is so true that inequality is happening, as much as we can question the causality between behind above social inequality, but as far as I am concerned, it all comes down to the unequal accessibility of limited resources, and the perception our society creates did a ‘great job’ in placing people, that if you can just imagine, physically, it makes difference.
However, I don’t see the mentality landscape that has been emphasized enough in this whole inequality spectrum when we address it and navigate our way out as a society. Yes, last time I checked Wikipedia, Inequality means some forms of tangible disparity, but I am want to hold back and say, isn’t it at the end of the day, what matters is how we feel and what we perceive? That is what I meant by ‘Mentality Landscape’ — we may be, most of the time, in an unfair game, but the minute we ‘discriminate’ ourselves in our mind, that is when we start to think and behave differently, and it is risky individuals who have the same ‘discriminative’ mindset start to form communities, which to some extent, reinforce the ‘discriminative’ perception throughout the entire society.
I am not a psychologist nor a sociologist, but here is a story that I want to make a point. Sarah and Lydia are both 13 years old who are Asian- American whose grand parents came from China originally. Both families are not at top 20% rich if we see the absolute number but after generations of efforts, they are pretty better off. 2 girls ended up in the same private middle school where they met each other the first day of school. The similar background drew them in, and they felt safe with each other to share feelings. It was one afternoon that in the English literature class that they got back the score back for one of their short paper writing. Both Sarah and Lydia got 5 out of 10. In their way back home that day, Lydia expressed her feeling about not being treated equally because of the Asian bloodline fact. She was a little outrages and said “ You see Sarah, the world always work like this! Here, we will always be the minority and will always get unequal judgement and treatment. I read Tom’s paper, mine is obviously better than his, but you know what? He got 7! It is just unfair. My parents always tell me I am different and the society is not friendly with us, so I always have to work harder to prove myself and to get equal opportunities!’ Sarah was a little shocked, because it never occurred to her that her grades had something to do with anything other than the quality of the paper. And after examined her paper again, she made a few marks already as for where could be improved next time and made an appointment with her teacher to talk it through. Lydia’s reaction landed on her so confusing that she decided to talk to her parents about it. That night, during the dinner, Sarah expressed everything, including her confusion. After hearing their little girl out, her parents smiled and said “Sarah, everyone on the earth is different, your ancestors are coming from a great country with wisdom for centuries. Your grandfather moved here to explore the world and lived up to his dreams. What I want to let you know is, it is natural that people come from different places, having so many difference, but what makes them different will always be themselves. So, you are Sarah, the only Sarah on this planet, difference makes the world colorful, don’t you think so?” Sarah smiled and nodded her head very strongly.
I was once at a point a girl like Lydia, as a student who studied abroad who was labeled as ‘international student’. I have been raised in the society that was full of norms and opinions about how disadvantaged and unequally treated you could be suffering, and interestingly enough, we happen to have so many ‘facts’ to justify and support it so that it overtime, became a snow ball that was rolling bigger and bigger. Over generations, such perceptions were getting stronger and stronger, unconsciously inside me. So after I came to US, I started to sense this mindset cornered me somehow to become who I really was simply because by unconsciously accepting that, I bared so many expectations, stereotypes and bias coming from assumptions already that I sometimes no longer ‘discriminate’ me as ME, but INTERNATIONAL STUDENT, alongside everything about it that I used to know without doubt. It deeply impacted how I perceived the society and how I behaved.
The question about everyone of us being less self-discriminated again is not to try to deny the numbers we saw that showcased the phenomenal inequality status quo and the role organizations should be playing to gear the society. However, eventually, society is made up of each individual, it is really up to each one of us to depict, perceive and present ourselves as opposed to be placed and stay there for the rest of your lives.
I highly acknowledged the efforts that we are making here and there at every corner of the world, at the same time, we have to understand it will have to be a slow and painful process because Rome is not built in a day and everything exits in a delicate balance. I simply want to add another layer on top of everything that we are doing, to question, will the change of mentality of individual make difference? As oppose to building community bonding people who share similar perception of the world, would fundamentally liberate their values another approach that we can explore?
If there is an object named ‘Happiness’ on the ground, people are standing to the different distant around it, but mentally, it does not have to be.