A long time ago I saw a large banner with the headline, “What we want for ourselves, we want for others.” Those words froze me in a paralyzing cognitive dissonance.
I wanted a lot for myself, but did I want the same for others? Categorically ‘no’ was the answer that had me so tied up in my uncomfortable thoughts of greed and selfishness.
Am I really a person that doesn’t want good things for others? For me, this was a “coming to Jesus moment.” I soon realized that all my past griping about what others deserve or don’t deserve was carefully cloaked in my “screw you, I’m OK, Jack” mentality.
Studies show that we compare our income to our neighbours and not the millionaires who live in their own gated community far from the struggling family of Joe and Jane Lunch-bucket.
Since then I matured and found good reasons to want my neighbours to do well, but I didn’t have to change my selfish thinking. I realized that it serves my interests when my neighbours do well. When they are able to achieve the “good life,” I can expect less crime on my property; more education, therefore, I get better service where they are employed; my house value stays high due to my neighbours maintaining their property; and more consumers with disposable income equals a better economy, so my children can be employed one day with their small business.
That said, when a million-dollar hockey player does well, my benefits are very few. I don’t live beside male millionaires who knock a rubber disc around with a piece of curved wood to earn millions of dollars; however, I have a school teacher as one of my neighbours.
Additionally to the previously listed reasons on how I personally benefit when my neighbours do well, there are an infinite number of reasons specifically for my neighbours who teach children.
In reviewing what the teachers are asking for, I find that not only is it fair, but their interests are virtually identical to my interests as a parent, i.e. smaller class sizes, etc. It seems to me that this fight between our teacher-neighbours and Christy Clark’s government is much bigger than my inconvenience in finding childcare during a strike.
I want the best, most talented, most intelligent people chasing education careers, and so should you. If that means that millionaire men who whack rubber discs around, or bounce a rubber ball, or whack a little white ball on grass for a living have to pay slightly higher taxes, I’m good with that.
Greg Engh, Mission