Social responsibility


So. I was raised in an upper-middle-class family with left-wing values of social responsibility, i.e. as citizens and as a society, we need to demonstrate solidarity to people who are born in families of lesser means, who don’t have access to the same level of education, who are prejudiced against because of their skin color, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc.

As I work on truly understanding/convincing myself that circumstances are neutral, I find it hard to reconcile it with these values I was brought up with. If circumstances really are neutral, then there is no such thing as people less fortunate than myself, and it’s up to people to help themselves by changing their thoughts. Does this negate my feelings of solidarity and empathy towards them, or the money I contribute to organizations that support them?

I realize as I write that these values of empathy and solidarity are maybe just pity or guilt in more respectable clothing.

Is it just about getting over this guilt? Or about supporting others in different ways, such as — if I pursue this coaching path I’m exploring — making my services accessible to specific groups whose circumstances, while neutral, resonate with me in this way? Or is it fine to serve “at my level” without guilt-tripping about refugees who have left their entire lives behind and are sleeping with their babies under bridges two metro stops from me?

I feel a little lost. How do you feel about giving back?