Noose of Social Responsibility
It’s hard for people who feel that “something must be done.” They struggle with an urge to make a difference however they can; they become teachers, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, nurses, and other selfless professionals. You’ll hear stories about how virtuous they are and how we can’t do without them.
It’s true: society is lucky to have them. They work not for money but to sate that indescribable feeling that they cannot simply live for themselves. So how do we as society deal with the selfless? We need them, and we know they do what they do for love, not money, so why pay them what they are worth when we can get away with paying them less? When times get tough let’s cut their salaries and make them keep going because they know they must do their job for others.
Hang your Head High
This is the noose of social responsibility: those with the conscience to live for others failing to fight back when their financial health is at risk. If the police aren’t paid enough should they endanger others by striking for better pay? If teachers’ benefits are threatened should they risk stunting the education of hundreds of children for the privilege of dental care? Should firefighters let a building burn because they feel they don’t make enough? What they risk seems far weightier than the grievances given them, and many would rather take the grievance, turn the other cheek, than harm those who are not responsible. They hang themselves by their inability to harm those they care for. In a perfect world they would not have to make such choices.
Hanging Like the Sword of Damocles
Often, when someone doesn’t stand up, their problem is never addressed. Too few are selfless and the would-be selfless have had to learn to be selfish. Public employees have to ransom those they wish to help in order to gain back something for themselves. And, for this, we see them as monsters.
Perhaps it is time to mourn the death of selflessness.