Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Thursday, June 27, 2019 — Houston, TX 77°

​Take individual responsibility: Identity politics are not a real solution to social issues

matthew_good_col

By Matthew Good     11/15/17 4:13pm

Last election cycle slammed a huge wedge between the political left and right, and there’s plenty of blame to go around.

The root of our troubles isn’t Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter or political correctness. It’s deeper than that. We can’t reach political compromise, enact effective societal change or just plain old get along because of an insidious line of thought that’s crept into our society: identity politics.

The problem here isn’t that people aren’t “oppressed” — we all carry our own baggage, the times we’ve been wronged and the things that aren’t fair. Maybe your great-great-grandfather was enslaved, you come from a broken home, your family immigrated illegally, you struggle with your sexuality or you battle a mental condition. The list could go on, but the point is this: Although we’re blessed to live in a free nation, life is hard, and at some point, we’ll look in the mirror and realize that, frankly, we’re not all that put together.



Identity politics take that reality and convince us that everyone else is the problem by fractionating us into categories — “poor Hispanics,” “straight white males,” “trans females,” “homo/heterosexuals,” etc. In the hierarchy of today’s identity politics, the higher you fall on the scale (i.e. the more “oppressed” you are), the more your voice and interests matter. Two huge problems exist with this line of thought: First, it’s technically impossible to list all the ways people are “oppressed,” and secondly, there’s no authority to accurately “weigh” these different types of hardships. We’ve stopped dealing with individuals as individuals and shifted to a subtle variation of Marxist “class warfare” — we’ve traded a struggle between rich and poor for a struggle between affinity groups. Consequently, our political sphere has radicalized and we’re witnessing more riots, more shootings, and a breakdown of our political discourse. The main problem in America isn’t a “lack of freedom.” Our main problem comes when we project our hardships onto other groups of people. We’ve convinced ourselves that if we’re not where we want to be, it’s someone else’s fault.

So what’s the solution? Look inside, not just outside. Ask yourself the hard questions: How can I take personal responsibility for picking myself up and taking care of my problems? What can I do to make my life and the lives around me just a little better?

A meaningful life — where what you do matters — comes only in the face of hardship. Difficult situations and circumstances are inevitable, but throwing your hands up, believing you’re a victim and blaming other people is the most counterproductive thing you could do. God forbid we waste our lives believing the world is out to get us. It’s not. Face your own weaknesses, inadequacies, and flaws. We’ve all got them, and, if we’re really honest, we know what they are. Acknowledge that, yes, in some ways — maybe even a lot of ways — you are “oppressed,” and some things in your life really are hard. But also acknowledge that ultimately, you’re the only person who can really do anything about it. Then get up and go to work.



More from The Rice Thresher

NEWS 5/28/19 10:14am
Provost Miranda to step down, return to faculty role

 Provost Marie Lynn Miranda announced that she will be stepping down from her role as provost, a position she has held for the last four years, at the end of June, in an email sent last Sunday. Miranda will go on sabbatical for the 2019-2020 academic year, after which she plans on reassuming her faculty position in the department of statistics, according to Miranda’s email. Her decision follows the diagnosis of her youngest child with cancer last year.

NEWS 5/11/19 4:26pm
Graduation 2019: Rain distracts but fails to disrupt

Class of 2019 graduates came to Saturday morning’s commencement with their caps, gowns, stoles and umbrellas. Despite forecasted downpours and the proposed alternative venue of Tudor Fieldhouse, both Friday and Saturday ceremonies were held outside. Like their matriculation ceremony four years ago, the graduates saw rain fall as they were granted their degrees. 

OPINION 5/5/19 9:20pm
Companies need to remember the inclusion part of diversity and inclusion

Companies should strive to go beyond “quotas” for underrepresented groups as their measure of diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion are reflected in how marginalized groups are treated by others, the opportunities available to these groups and the amount of respect given to a person’s voice. Even if a company has an equal demographic split, can they really say they are diverse or inclusive if select people experience bias or lack opportunities for success?


Comments

Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.