All Solutions Begin With An Idea
I’m no economist, but we’ve come to a point in our national trajectory that someone — maybe even all of us — needs to start considering solutions.
There’s a lot amiss, awry, askew in America right now. A lot.
Roxane Gay, writing in this morning’s New York Times, posits that we owe one another the forgiveness of student debt. The subtitle reads, “People who want others to suffer will be mad. Who cares?”
I know what she means, and I agree, in principle, but to answer the question, Who cares?, we all need to. Yes, that’s right. We all need to care, yes, about ourselves, and our families, and our neighborhoods, and our towns, and our counties, and our states, and our country, and our planet. Which means that we all need to care about the persons who inhabit those places.
This is that moment where the Christians amongst us might cite these alleged words of the Nazarene Rabbi, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Yes, yes, I know, but … it’s the rare Bible-citer who knows that the man was speaking to thirteen people at the time. Just 13.
Besides, there’s a world of difference between Love and Care.
I do not believe we are called to love everyone, except in an impersonal way because they are as human as we are, but I believe strongly that we are mandated (that word commandment comes to mind here) to care for one another.
In translation this means that the practice of care includes the notion that I want for you what I want for myself. A quid pro quo, if you will. The Buddha called it Reciprocity.
Ms. Gay’s Who cares? query relates to a specific response to student loan forgiveness. “But the debate about the issue is contentious. It’s either a great idea or a terrible one. It’s a way of evening the playing field or it’s unfair to people who have paid off their student loans or who never borrowed or attended college. A great many Americans are only concerned with fairness when they think someone else might get something they won’t get. And they are seething with resentment as they imagine a country in which we help one another. It’s appalling, that this is where we are … that this is who we are.
“No one benefits from everything our government does.”
Of course not. Nor should we. Farm subsidies are really of little interest to me personally. I don’t understand them, and I don’t need to really. They don’t touch my life, but if the experts who know say they’re necessary, I’m not about to argue the point with them.
Ms. Gay cites, “Damon Linker, a columnist for The Week, tweeted, ‘I think Dems are wildly underestimating the intensity of anger college loan cancellation is going to provoke. Those with college debt will be thrilled, of course. But lots and lots of people who didn’t go to college or who worked to pay off their debts? Gonna be bad.’”
Okay. I get that. They probably will be mad.
But what about throwing our thinking toward solutions, Beloved? What might solve the angry reaction?
As I said, I’m no economist, but … here’s an idea to rebalance our economic disparity.
Let’s forgive ALL student debt. All, no exceptions.
For those who do not have student debt, let’s forgive ALL their credit card debt.
And before you squawk at how Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are going to suffer, let’s gain their cooperation through tax breaks — just for these corporations — because their revenues will suffer briefly and a promise not to audit their sometimes dubious credit practices for the duration of some specified number of years.
Anger managed. Everyone wins.
Now, I don’t pretend to know whether this would work or would be possible, but I do know it’s an idea, and one that I haven’t heard from anyone else. Maybe it’s completely crazy, but we need to start thinking of different ways to make our world work for everyone, Beloved.
Ms. Gay maintains, “Much of the political division about student loan forgiveness can be explained by the fact that people want to benefit from the social contract without adhering to its terms. Or they only care about the social contract as it applies to the right kinds of people. And, of course, there is the bootstrap mentality — If I have achieved success, surely you can too — which is delusional at best. Then there are those who worship at the altar of personal responsibility: If you assume a debt, you must repay it. And worst of all, there’s the sufferance doctrine: If I have experienced hardship, you must experience hardship, too.”
I understand all these postures, but they’re really no help to the result we all need to want — a world that works for everyone.
Roxane Gay’s final words are a clarion call to all of us: “But now is not the time for half-measures. Now is the time for grand gestures and innovative thinking. Now is the time for remembering the social contract and recommitting to the idea of a unified country where we understand how intimately we are all connected. Now is the time for understanding that empathy is infinite if we allow it to be.
“This country has to rise out of the bitter ashes of Donald Trump’s presidency. Student loan forgiveness won’t solve all the problems we are facing, but it will ease a significant burden for tens of millions of people. It will stimulate the lagging economy. And though not everyone will directly benefit, the country as a whole will improve. As a public, we owe a debt to one another — the debt of belonging to a community. It’s time that debt was paid.”
So, Beloved, what are some of your ideas that could help our flagging country and our endangered world be a better place for everyone?
The time to share those ideas — no matter how wild, no matter how outlandish — is now because none of us can ever know when an idea shared is the germ of a solution for each and every one of us.
Dr. Susan Corso is a spiritual teacher, the founder of iAmpersand, and the author of The Mex Mysteries, the Boots & Boas Books, and spiritual nonfiction. Her website is susancorso.com.