Time and time again lately I open up a news site, a real newspaper, a magazine, turn on the TV or watch a news video feed. And what do I hear? The word ‘inequality’ teamed with things like economics, education, development, sociology, physicality, business, income. After enough iterations, it becomes, not something I listen to, but just another buzzword in the jargon of media stories on how the human race is doing.
I don’t like buzzwords. I especially don’t like words that become buzzy just because everyone thinks they fit into the story.
And this is a buzzword that should never be buzzy. Inequality is a concept that needs to be grasped, opened up, examined and turned upside down by everyone. On the most basic levels, where are the gaps between people? What does inequality really mean for ordinary humans living in today’s world?
Our online Webster’s dictionary says –
Inequality: noun in·equal·i·ty \ˌi-ni-ˈkwä-lə-tē\ : an unfair situation in which some people have more rights or better opportunities than other people.
So many things tie back to economic, social and educational factors – they are all over media outlets these days. I could insert tons more links into this post, but I will spare you the spamming. In short, we are living in a time and place where two people can sit next to each other, look similar, but one person starts walking towards the subway, hoping to have a Metrocard with one more ride on it, and the other hails a taxi to take them to Park Avenue.
At the most basic levels, people in every nook of this populated world become unequal at their births. They become more unequal as they grow up in their families, go to school and ultimately become adults competing for their own niches in life. Few are going to wind up on the top of whatever hill you choose to define as your apex. Most can’t really even understand what got them where they wind up.
Maybe all this buzzy talk will shake something loose. Just maybe this one time a buzzword will help.
‘Maybe’ also shouldn’t be a buzzword.