Saturday, August 06, 2011

Fair Treatment

Today I wrote the comment "So...will America go easier on folks with lower credit scores now that it's in the same boat?" Almost immediately I was sent a private message from a family member that I shouldn't reveal I have bad credit.

Not to get personal on this personal blog, but I have a great credit score. It's due entirely to the fact that I worked at a bank after college and was very careful with my finances because I had to be to keep that job. No surprise to learn banks won't let you give financial advice if they can see you're in the negative and missing payments. And so I was remarkably careful for a 23 year old. Where would my score have been otherwise? I like to think still high, but I'm friends with plenty of good people who made a few simple mistakes in their early twenties. We now live in a time where 18 year olds are bombarded with credit card offers. We also live in a time when employers are allowed to run a credit check on potential employees. I feel for people in that situation. How are they supposed to earn a decent living to fix those mistakes if they keep applying to employers who practice this?

For lending purposes I totally understand. And even sometimes for renting, because landlords want to know you can pay your bills. However it feels like that number is getting all the more powerful in an economy where the middle class is falling further and further behind. In these economic times we all know good, responsible people who have probably found Peter's pockets empty when it came time to pay Paul. And so my comment was meant to really say, "Is America going to help people on hard times now that it itself is facing hard times?" It's been no international secret that the US economy is struggling, but there's now a scarlet AA+ stitched to the front of Lady Liberty's gowns to prove it.

So if my score was okay, why say anything? Not my problem, right?

Fair treatment is like dinner at a restaurant. You can't enjoy your plate until everyone at the table has a plate. If you're straight, defend gays. If you're white, defend minorities. If you're a man, defend women. If you've got cash, defend the poor. If you're in any position where fair treatment is taken for grated, earn it by earning it for others.

While we were at Evo a guy we knew was being loud and silly and heckling Mortal Kombat. This is a normal kind of thing, it's a boisterous crowd. This guy is outspoken and one to cheer and jeer his excitement. Someone in the audience called, "Sit down F--" at him. The F-- was the rude three letter slur sometimes used for homosexuals.

This heckling guy stopped everything, stood on his chair and called out to the someone and to the audience listening, "Oh no, no, we NEVER drop the F-bomb in the Northwest. You can call me a B----, you can call me an A--h---, you can tell me HEY! F--- you, buddy. But we NEVER say F-- because there could be gay people in this audience and we NEVER disrespect them!" Ryan and I and everyone around us broke into applause.

This young straight man didn't hesitate to launch into defense of our gay friends, and every gay person who might have been in range of his voice. To strangers he comes across as a tough guy for sure, and his voice still rang tough guy. His tone was not asking, it was telling. Here he was, a straight man entertaining a crowd and when the opportunity was presented to him, he used their attention to make a point. Some people listening may never have thought twice about using that word and now they were given pause to reflect on it.

There are people out there who think defending gays is up to gays. I'm not gay, so how it is my problem? Ah, but you are a person, and they're people too. It's not about defending your own, it's about defending those who need defending in that moment. There's been a lot of political attacks on funding for women's healthcare this year. Women are only one half of the vote, we need the men who love us on our side. My credit score is good right now, what if this nightmare economy strikes out at me next? The hand you criticize today, you may need to help you up tomorrow.

Think of it this way: Where would Gotham be if Batman only defended the people who dressed like bats?

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