just procrastinating

Monday, December 06, 2004

Liberalism and Bums
I get a kick out of this letter to the editor in U Va's Cavalier Daily. A couple of Anthropology professors writing about the lack of conservatives in academia:
While it is certainly possible that people who become academics start out as Democrats and then go to a university to complain, it is more likely that academics become politically liberal in the course of immersing themselves in the pursuit of knowledge and the practice of critical inquiry.

Anthropologists are professionally committed to taking seriously the experiences of all human beings in their cultural settings, including people all over the world whose interests are disregarded by conservative U.S. policies.

Moreover, anthropology emphasizes learning about others not just through abstract indices, but by living among them and participating in their lives, a method that leads us to view people empathetically and with awareness of the constraints they face. It is only natural for this kind of knowledge to lead the vast majority of anthropologists to disapprove of policies that magnify human suffering, whether through economic mechanisms, social legislation or the prosecution of needless wars.

If we can take seriously that such lack of parity creates a situation which for some can be stifling, we should be all the more prepared to recognize the many in this world who are in a truly disadvantaged position.
Reading this about the "truly disadvantaged" made me think about this bum, or perhaps he is a homeless person, that hangs out at a corner near our place. Just yesterday, I was thinking about how, back in my early 20s, I would almost always give bums my spare change. But then at some point along the way, I started to avoid them, and then, I just kind of stopped. Maybe every now and then if I am accosted by someone I might give them something, but I usually just try to avoid them now.

So anyway, I saw this guy again yesterday and thought that maybe I would give him some cash around the holidays, to relieve whatever remaining Liberal guilt I have. But later that evening...what do you know, I see the guy at Food Lion. And what does he buy with his crinkled up dollar bills and loose change? Of course: beer and smokes. Not that I blame him for this, but his sign (Hungry, Need Food) is clearly misleading.

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