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Changing old views

I must repent.  That is, I must acknowledge that I was wrong.  This happens a lot.  I've changed my views on so many things.  There are things that I have blogged about that I regret having said.  I've even thought about editing my blog.  But I haven't for a few reasons.  First of all, I do believe in personal accountability.  If I've said something, I should be accountable for having said it.  So I shouldn't delete it just because I regret having said it.  Secondly, I think it's good for people (who are interested) to go back and see how my views have changed over the years.  I really do think much differently than I did four years ago.  And that's apparent in my blog history.

I think it's good to have changing views.  To learn new information, incorporate that information into how you view the world, and to make changes of opinion accordingly.  It's the symptom of an open mind.  It is unreasonable to expect that one has it all right to begin with, so the logical conclusion is that we should change as we go, as we learn new things.

I often feel guilty, when I change my views, that I ever held the previous view in the first place.  I feel guilty that I used to be opposed to marriage equality, especially because I am gay myself.  This may be one reason why I'm reluctant to talk about my past views--I'm often embarrassed by them.  It's easier to pretend that what I believe now is what I've always believed, and some people certainly try to do that.  I can't claim that I never try that.

But with this issue, I'm admitting that I have said things contrary to what I'm about to say.  The topic that has been on my mind a lot lately is that of employment.  This post I made about a year and a half ago.  I thought very differently then than I do now.  I spoke about how I felt like it was good to have low-income jobs as starter jobs for young people, and then expect people to climb up the corporate ladder to higher income jobs.  That's actually part of the post that I may not disagree with at this time, but what I do disagree with is the idea that certain jobs should be looked down on.  I spoke very scathingly about my call center job, and about fast food jobs.

I have paid more attention to the people around me since then.  I feel like I'm empathizing more with people in different jobs.  I see the custodians at my school and I acknowledge that their work is just as necessary to the success of the college as mine.  I cannot say that my job is more important than theirs because without them, the college would not be a pleasant place for me to teach.  I wouldn't be able to use the restrooms.  I wouldn't have a place to throw my garbage because my trash cans would be full.  There are so many things that I rely on the custodians to do.  The same goes for the cafeteria staff, the security staff, and so many others that I may not even know about or think about on a regular basis.

To look down on people who do such jobs is illogical.  They are jobs which must be done, and therefore someone must do them.  The people doing them may or may not enjoy what they do.  But they must be done.  Whether they require a low skill set or a high skill set, they are requisite.  I don't feel like I am contributing more to society than the custodians or fast food workers or construction workers.

One thing that has bothered me about all of this is the marked class distinction.  It may be different in different places, but from my own personal observation here in Atlanta, it seems to be the case that white people have the desirable "white collar" jobs and the undesirable jobs are mostly filled by minorities.  Conrad is a custodian and he is the only white custodian out of the hundred or more who work there.  Nearly all of them are black.  I've seen the grounds workers here at my apartment complex, and they're all Mexican.  I just saw a construction crew repaving the entryway and they were all black.  It bothers me to see this kind of racism.

No, I don't personally feel a need to look down on the types of jobs I've mentioned--custodians, grounds workers, and construction workers.  But I do know that society does look down on them.  And it is seen in their pay.  I think it's a strong sign of lingering racism that we have low-paying jobs filled so majorly with non-white people.

Where I work, there is much diversity among the faculty.  There are lots of black faculty members, and lots of people of other ethnic or racial backgrounds.  But, at the same time, it's an historically black college.  I feel like academia in general could do better about including non-white people among its ranks.  At many of the math conferences I've attended, the attendees have been nearly all white.  But, more than that, I think it would be good to have a more egalitarian view of society.

I've heard the opinion expressed that certain people deserve more money because they're better than others.  I don't believe that.  I don't believe that a CEO deserves to earn as much as 400 of eir employees earn.  I don't believe that I contribute as much to the college as two custodians.  I feel like we need to have a more even distribution of payment.  I think it is fair to have compensation correlate with effort put in, but I do not believe that a CEO puts in 400 times as much effort as a base employee.  I don't feel like I put in twice as much work as a custodian.

Anyway, I regret having taught that certain jobs should be disdained, and I recant.  I no longer believe that.  I believe that all employment should be respected and each job has its place in society in making a better world.

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