The weight of inequality

Parmanu:

In the days that followed, I found myself thinking often of the common man on the street and the gap between us. I imagined people – the elevator boy, the waiter in a restaurant, the pizza delivery guy – looking at me, sizing up my net value, and comparing it to their own. On streets I often hid my camera. I sensed a strange notion of guilt, for things I possessed and they did not. I found this condition disturbing, and I wondered how others like me coped. I spoke with some friends.

“We know inequality as an abstraction, and we think we understand it. But putting a number to it, not statistically but in the context of an everyday situation, is something else.”

I was with an ex-colleague who now divided his time between the corporate and social sector.

I continued: “This is what happened when I gave that figure to the barber – I put down a number that made the gap between us explicit. Before this incident I ignored these people, now I think of them everyday.”

“I see what you mean,” he said.

“You live here – how do you cope with this on a daily basis?”

“I deal with it by contributing to social causes. And I tell myself that to do this, I need to keep a certain level of prosperity – good clothes, a car, an apartment, and so on. I need to keep myself satisfied, so that I can have an impact on others.”

“Hmmm.”

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