What we now want most is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the earth and the elimination of that fanatic devotion to exalted ideas of national egoism and pride, which is always prone to plunge the world into primeval barbarism and strife (Nikola Tesla). While it is not always bad to be patriotic and thankful for your country or your heritage, when it leads to harm of another person then it may have gone too far. Fighting for a way of life or for the sake of something that benefits one group at the expense (and to the detriment) of another group, will ultimately be counterproductive. If someone has to lose for another to win then maybe there needs to be more discussion of the issue–whatever that issue may be. It’s possible (and likely) there are other options that can benefit both parties. The idea that one group has to be on top or “win” and another group must remain at the bottom or “lose” is harmful to all. It seems the measure of justice and equality these days is centered around material goods and prosperity which is not a true measure of success at all. It makes no more sense to me for one group to have their possessions taken from them and handed over to another group than it does to gain possessions using dishonest means at the expense of another’s resources or assets. While some social injustice is obviously wrong in an enlightened and sincerely just society, other forms of injustice are accepted as correct simply because a marginalized group profits from it. If it’s wrong for me to prosper on the backs of exploited, manipulated, or abused people then it is also wrong for the benefits of my personal, honest labor to be snatched away from me simply because I have worked harder, saved more, or better managed what I earned. If our society were truly equal, then everyone would have the same opportunities to prosper or at least have access to the same opportunities. However, individuals don’t always take advantage of opportunities in the same way or with the same results. There are other factors to take into consideration. While I don’t agree with perpetuating cycles of poverty and social injustice, neither do I agree with the Robin Hood philosophy of stealing from the rich to give to the poor (the operative word being “stealing”). I believe in systems and processes being put in place that encourage, support, and make possible the best opportunities for all. Our current system of social welfare does not create or lead to individual wellbeing. If the system does not lead to individual wellbeing over time then it certainly will not result in social wellbeing overall. Reinforcing a system of dependency is not going to solve our social justice problems. Supporting systems that perpetuate social injustice will not result in social equality. Being unjust to one group to be just to another is not helpful in the long run. One of the best ways to effect change is to use the simple psychological technique of behavior modification. We need to have systems that reinforce and reward the results we want while at the same time not supporting or reinforcing the results we don’t want. Whatever the desired result may be, we will not get it by setting up systems that don’t support it. In the end, it will always get back to money. Those in power would be hard pressed to put their own personal benefits second to the benefit of society at large. If the decisions that lead to prosperity and power are made by selfish people then the results will never be what’s in the best interest of society as a whole. Who would support a decision, a law, a policy, or a change that would benefit society at the expense of their personal bank account or profit margin if it were in their personal power to prevent it? While some people have earned their financial prosperity through hard work and ingenuity, others have earned theirs because they are in positions to influence the laws and systems that benefit them personally and they take advantage of that position. The very first step in addressing the problems of social inequality in the United States then would be to look at the conflicts of interest that are innate in our system of government. If I can continuously vote myself and my colleagues raises, if I can personally influence the passing of legislature that profits my family, my friends, and myself then I have been set up to do that very thing. Humans are humans. The systems need to support equality and eliminate inequality. Start at the top. Start with the ones who have the power and ability to create the systems in the first place. Stop blaming the people who inadvertently prosper from the system. Look at the people who are creating, funding, and perpetuating the system. “When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic” (Benjamin Franklin). I’m pretty sure our republic ended years ago. Is it even possible to get it back? webbwisdom.com 2017.