The Tipping Point

Mälardrottning. Stockholm City Hall

Mälardrottning. Stockholm City Hall

Over a century ago, Frederick Douglass, American social reformer, orator, writer, statesman and one-time slave, clearly outlined the consequences of inequality. “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

Today, we live in a fast paced global world where knowledge sharing is instantaneous.  Injustice and inequalities can no longer be swept under the table.  David Korten, economist, author, political activist, argues that,  “In a world of increasing inequality, the legitimacy of institutions that give precedence to the property rights of ‘the Haves’ over the human rights of ‘the Have Nots’ is inevitably called into serious question.”

Perhaps our interconnected world will bring us more quickly to a tipping point where we recognize that equality, however flawed or imperfect it may be in reality, will grant us the privilege of continued existence.

“Adversity draws men together and produces beauty and harmony in life’s relationships, just as the cold of winter produces ice-flowers on the window-panes, which vanish with the warmth.” 
― Søren Kierkegaard

14 thoughts on “The Tipping Point

  1. I do hope you are right. I think the internet, more than any other tool, has allowed people everywhere to see that we are all equal in our desire for happiness and health and in our love for our families and dear ones.

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    • It seems we both enjoy Malcolm Gladwell!!!“The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
      ― Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

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  2. What a wonderfully thought provking post, Rebecca. This is so true. I have often thought that to a large extent it is bingo, booze and football that keeps the British society in check.

    Take away even these “sops” to the working class and you are in big trouble!!!

    At the moment there is a big squeeze on the benefits system in the UK and there is a debate about the “deserving and the undeserving poor”.

    Methinks we are on shaky ground. Once people feel they have no stake in the society what reason do they have to uphold it? When that scenario is repeated globally, as you say, the tipping point is near.

    I will follow the debate with interest.

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    • I am following this debate closely as well – the question of deserving and undeserving is being discussed around the globe. The idea of empathy and compassion seems to be only understood within the context of experience. Inequality is really another way of saying one life is more valuable than another. History has proven over and over that this type of thinking leads to disastrous outcomes.

      “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
      ― John F. Kennedy, Kennedy’s Inaugural address of 1961.

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  3. I so agree the internet is helping to bring equality closer.
    The internet is also exposing the hatred and bigotry of many. I read a lot of ugly comments posted back to articles…..not here in WP…but on news items. There is still so much work to be done.

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    • I agree – there are tragic, hateful comments being circulated, even encouraged. Many people use the excuse of fear to condone their behaviour. We have much more work to do. And this journey is not for the fainthearted. It is for the courageous.

      “Courage: the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
      ― Maya Angelou

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  4. Gosh, you have been writing some powerful posts this week. Do you know the BBC programme Desert Island Discs? One of the most recent guests was Aung San Suu Kyi – can you imagine what an amazing programme it was listening to her talking about her life, her work, and music (although interestingly this had not played a huge part – she used it to reminder her of other people in large part). Anyway, you and I were exchanging comments a few days ago about the difficulty of seeing history in the present. I think she is one of the exceptions – her pioneering work and strength of character is truly inspirational and happening in the here and now. When asked about her hopes for the future of Burma and democracy there, she was careful to talk about small steps, but the establishment of an independent judiciary and the rule of law was firmly at the top of her list. I can’t imagine her achieving anything less, can you?

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    • I agree wholeheartedly. Well said…

      “Human beings want to be free and however long they may agree to stay locked up, to stay oppressed, there will come a time when they say ‘That’s it.’ Suddenly they find themselves doing something that they never would have thought they would be doing, simply because of the human instinct that makes them turn their face towards freedom.” Aung San Suu Kyi

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