Handicapped spaces, masks, resentment and being better people

Handicapped spaces, Fred Clark says, are a reminder “we’re capable of choosing not to be assholes.”

” …seeing those designated parking spaces should also be a reminder that it always is a choice — something that we must choose again and again, perpetually, because we are all also capable of choosing the other way. So we can see those spaces and be reminded that this was a choice we needed to bind ourselves to. We can, and should, be proud that this was a commitment we made, and we can and should be humbled and cautious due to the realization that this was a commitment we needed to make because we know ourselves to be more than capable of failing to live up to it. Laws reserving accessible parking spaces, in other words, are an expression of what Reinhold Niebuhr was getting at when he said that our capacity for justice makes democracy possible, while our inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

The same logic, Clark suggests, applies to masks and wear-a-mask policies: we can choose to be decent people and minimize other people’s risk of infection. But instead, large numbers of people are choosing resentment — how dare people ask us to be considerate! How dare they tell us we have to obey a rule to protect other customers! “Those with genuine grievances do not, for the most part, seek or find their identity in being aggrieved. They may hunger and thirst for justice, but they are not obsessed with resentment. The oppressed, outcast, abused, and exploited would seem to have every right to live their lives shaped by a seething resentment, but the vast majority of them do not do so. That’s an astonishing and beautiful thing — so strange, in fact, that when one of our most eloquent public figures tried to articulate it in a speech, he wound up breaking into song.” Instead, “Most of the resentment in this world is “felt” by the haves, rather than by the have nots. This may seem decidedly un-natural and illogical, but it is nevertheless the case. Those who have no legitimate grievance, those who enjoy the benefits of what was rightly due to the deprived are more often the ones whose lives are shaped by seething resentment and by feeling perpetually aggrieved.”

Both posts are excellent. I recommend clicking on the links and reading the whole thing. Plus a Love. Joy. Feminism post about how evangelicals came out against the ADA because while they were in favor of helping the disabled (they said), making it a requirement was a monstrous imposition on their freedom not to let people in wheelchairs access church easily

And because it feels relevant to the theme, I’ll add a quote from Aldous Huxley: “Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes even perceptibly worse than it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself. “

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