Why We Need to be Less Materialist, and More Humanist

I might find myself losing followers for this, or–with a little luck–inspiring debate, which I whole-heartedly welcome. I am a Bernie Sanders supporter, and have been since I learned what he was about, maybe seven or so months ago. In fact, he’s the first politician I’ve ever donated to–and I’m not exactly flush with money to donate. But I do quite believe in him and what he stands for. Even if he loses, he’s opening the eyes and minds to these seemingly radical ideas that we should be working towards.

I found myself in a debate first thing this morning about Sanders’ policies with a friend of mine. He said he was looking into him, but he didn’t see any of what Sanders was saying as feasible. As the debate went on, he felt the need to point out to me that he’s coming at this from an accounting and economics background. It annoyed me, because I felt like he was using this as a matter of authority to shut me up. So, childishly I rebutted, “Well I’m coming at this from experiencing two different economic systems and a critical thinking and ethical background!” Perhaps not my finest moment.

The debate-turned-argument moved to the raise of minimum wage to $15 an hour. His argument was that it’s not fair for those that aren’t qualified to get the same amount as those who are, and my argument of course is that everyone deserves a living wage, period. As the debate continued, I couldn’t understand how it could only boil down to just numbers. How was ethics not a part of this standpoint? How is it not seen that just because these are idealistic ways to be looking at things doesn’t mean they’re not possibly? After all, just because our system is going the way it is, doesn’t make it right, and it would be sightless (and lazy) to claim that the system can’t change.

It finally dawned on me the main difference between us. He was arguing the stance of a materialist, while I was arguing from an humanist perspective. Everything he’s using to reason is set in the real world: they’re numbers, data and algorithms. It’s not wrong, it’s just not the whole picture. His points are valid, and his reasoning is sound–if you’re only using that for your logic. But there’s so much more to it. I’m arguing ethics as well as feasibility. What can we make done so that the people of the US aren’t struggling to get an education?

Right now, we’re hypocrites. We sing the song of freedom and opportunity of America, yet there’s very little opportunity for Americans. As my blog followers will know, I’ve been looking at schools in the UK as well as the US because the schools in the UK are at a set price at £14,000 (for non residents, £9,000 for residents), while our schools are anywhere between $21,00 and $51,000 a year–making it very difficult for those without good financial backing to make it to a quality school. This means that minds of those that could be leads in top scientific or engineering fields are squandered simply because they don’t come from the “right” people.

There is a lecture that we’re going over in my Critical Thinking class, which is Elizabeth Warren lecturing about the diminishing middle class in America, using nothing but pure data. The bottom line is that what a single-income family could afford in the 70’s (a family with two parents and two kids, though one income), a similar-sized two-income family can’t afford now with two incomes.

So yeah, our system is broken. And it might be like fixing a broken jaw–in order to repair it, it has to be broken more. The way the structure is working now, we cannot smoothly fix it to Sanders’ ideas. But that’s not to say its impossible. We can do it, and what’s more, we need to. If you or me or the generations to come are to have any chance in life to contribute to the enhancement of humanity, then we need to fix it, yesterday.

This isn’t about numbers. This isn’t just about data. It’s about what it means to the individual, to the people that make up the world. We can’t be bombing and bugging other countries because they don’t uphold what we feel to be righteousness and justice, not when we can’t even be just in our own county.

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4 thoughts on “Why We Need to be Less Materialist, and More Humanist

  1. USA built on the American Dream, about money and materialism, with some self-righteous goodwill to others built in. Everything has a price tag, a number and a judgement to exploit or destroy it. Humanism starts in the home and life of the individual; no politician, political party or political system will change anything.

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    • I agree, it absolutely starts with the home. But we have to change out ideals as a whole to meet that journey as well. If the nation’s philosophy is money, then that will be the attitude that translates to the individual. If the nation is about enhancing its people to be the best we can be, to ensure we have what we need for basic survival, then I believe that we, as individuals, will do more than just survive.

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      • Society would have to fundamentally change if humanity will ever have a chance to live up to your vision. Society is limited by its own structures, for instance the worthless paper and base metal we call currency. Think how you are defined and forced into thoughts and actions by this worthless currency and the systems such as banks and bank accounts that you need to function in life.

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      • I agree, it would have to fundamentally change, and it’s something that’s drastically needed. It would be hard, but all revolutions are. I don’t think that Bernie Sanders is actually going to get his way, he’ll be butting heads with a lot of people. And I know that there’s probably a slim chance of him winning, but he’s getting people to realize that a) there’s not a two party system, and b) these are the things that we need to address. He’s putting the ideas in peoples’ heads.
        We need to change how we’re defined. I think it’s possible, but I don’t think other people think it’s possible. That’s why the messages of this guy are so important. He brings up how systems work in other countries, which brings our attention to the success stories, government systems which are possible if we work toward it.
        We have to change the structure of society. It’ll be hard, but I’ve noticed a huge difference in the knowledge and cries of the public in the last ten years. People are recognizing the differences in class, they’re recognizing the downfalls of capitalism, they’re seeing that there needs to be a drastic change. I think it’s possible, and the fact that there’s a socialist expected to be the main contender against Clinton is enough to get people thinking and talking more about the changes that need to make. And igniting the discussion is the first steps towards those changes.

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