Over at Chicagoan in Montreal, Frank, Mrne and I have been having an interesting conversation about Frank’s most recent post. In it, he writes honestly and elegantly about crossing the yuppie threshold, which has led to some soul-searching on his part, and to a fair bit of commenting on mine.
Our exchange has inspired me to think about how, should I ever manage to finish my degree, land an academic job, and pay off my student loans, I might avoid becoming a detestable yuppie. This is what I’ve come up with so far, in convenient list form.
The Top Twenty
1. First of all, I will never, ever, whine about paying taxes. I mean, ever. I will, however, expect wealthy individuals and corporations to pay their fair share.
2. I will only vote for politicians who promise to invest my tax dollars in social programs, education funding, and universally accessible health care.
3. I’ll vote twice for politicians who will support the arts, raise the minimum wage to a living wage, and/or increase payments to welfare recipients.
4. I will not judge homeless people on the basis of whether they drink, smoke, or take drugs, because that is not my right. I will give them cigarettes if they ask for them, and they almost always do.
5. I will not bitch about “blue collar” workers, or about how they've ruined my day because their picket line added an extra ten minutes to my commute.
6. I will not be offended by construction workers who take off their shirts while working in 30+ degree heat.
7. I will ask prospective landlords if they illegally evicted their previous tenants from the apartment/condo/loft I am viewing in order to jack up the rent, and if they have, I will decline to take the apartment/condo/loft and then report them to the Régie du logement.
8. I will continue to patronize dive bars, greasy spoons, and neighbourhood cafés because they are signs of an economically diverse neighbourhood community. Truck drivers don’t go to sushi bars.
9. I will continue to enjoy a variety of cuisines, but I will not buy any foodstuff that is marketed as artisanal.
10. I will think that there is something deeply wrong with a real estate market that puts a basic family home out of the financial reach of anyone who makes less than $35,000 per year.
11. I will persist in the belief that student loan debtors should have the same legal rights as business owners, financial speculators, and compulsive gamblers.
12. I will never tell a student who misses class because of work commitments that they don’t take their studies seriously enough.
13. I will ask my political representatives to explain why someone who has just attempted suicide has to wait for three months to see a psychiatrist who works in the public health system.
14. I will not buy into the argument that “illegal” immigrants are taking away “our” jobs, but I will make an effort to understand why people who have lost well-paying manufacturing jobs think that they are.
15. I will remember that the vast majority of our country’s military personnel are people from low-income families, and I will wonder what this says about our democracy.
16. I will seriously consider the role that extreme poverty plays in civil, religious, and ethnic conflict.
17. I will question why nurses, social workers, and day care attendants don’t make as much money as lawyers, and also why any job that is described a “helping profession” is guaranteed to burn people out within five years.
18. I will not assume that someone who is struggling in life does so because they are stupid, lazy, or doomed to failure. I will at least consider the fact that it takes a near-Herculean effort to overcome the class divide, and that not everyone has it in them to do so.
19. I will care as much about poverty issues as I do about animals and the environment, and I will make a sincere effort to understand why poor people seem to worry less about global warming than I do.
20. I will not assume that everyone has a house, a car, an iPod, or a blog. In other words, I will not assume that everyone is just like me.