I am not convinced that those who wish to see change are willing to do what it takes to achieve it. There is a certain level of comfort which accompanies complacency. But is that comfort worth it? Is it worth sacrificing relative comforts in search of more freedom (or even a higher level of comfort)? I say yes. But not without considering the plight of individuals I set out to fight for and with.
In this piece, I am speaking from the perspective of a population which is marginalized on numerous fronts. Just extracting one layer of marginalization, that concerning socioeconomic status, there are a host of variables to consider. For instance, one might notice that in areas of concentrated poverty and a higher cost of living, that one missed paycheck could be the difference between having a place to live and spending sleepless nights on the street. It might also mean not being able to provide food for your family. The threat of losing your source of income may simply not appear to be worth it in the context of reform (read: revolution).
The likelihood of a missed paycheck seems especially daunting if you consider how deeply corruption, lax standards of ethics and misconduct rears its face in many governments. Any attempt at causing friction in the system could mean the systematic “blackballing” of someone stepping out of the mold, resulting in increased difficulty in finding employment. This happens right here in the Virgin Islands, our very own home and cannot be ignored.
Can living paycheck to paycheck ever become comfortable for the average worker and their family? Absolutely not and admittedly, the predicament may feel more comfortable than not earning a paycheck at all.
Many people are forced to “sacrifice their relative comfort for the possibility of financial freedom.” However, at what point do we become okay with those sacrifices? Any revolution, no matter how small, has to come with sacrifice, even if temporary. To promote change, one must be okay with the discomfort which comes with it.
Organizers and/or intellectuals should, in these cases, be charged with the development of contingency plans for those who give up their comforts for the greater good. Development of shelters and emergency funds is one such example. Another is the development of secure community gardens and food stores. Preparation is key. Fear will always be a factor when considering how to change an entire system. It cannot, however, be the driving force behind said change.
Understanding that not every member of a community will be willing to sacrifice the same amount of comforts for the sake of change is critical to leadership in the context of reform/revolution. Also, understanding that those who love you will continuously warn you about the dangers of opposing the “powers that be” allows for perspective. Awareness of possible dangers is not to be afraid of said danger–it is to be prepared for them.
So, in the context of reform/revolution, consider the conditions in which you and the other members of your community are forced to live. Then, consider if you are willing to sacrifice your more certain comforts for the possibility of freedom. Last, consider what of those comforts you are willing to sacrifice. Are you only wishing to see change or are you willing to do what it takes to achieve it?