Infectious Selfishness

Today the Conservative government voted against a policy to ensure that children had access to free meals during the ongoing pandemic. I’m not going to get into the specific details of why I think this was wrong (in case it’s not obvious), but considering the money which has been spent on other policies in recent times, it’s very disappointing. What I find sad is that a lot of people online are very quick to defend the government’s decision, going so far as to demonise the children who are going hungry – or at least, the parents. A perspective born, no doubt, out of the misguided belief that people only become poor as a consequence of bad decisions.

I think about this and I think about the fact that a lot of people seem unwilling to do even the slightest thing in order to stop the spread of a life-threatening virus and I think, how did people become so selfish? But then when you think about it, a growing lack of empathy among the general populace isn’t particularly surprising. For a decade now, we’ve had the same government. A government which has seen the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. A government which has consistently voted against investing in public services which would benefit thousands of people and have cut back on many once great public institutions. They have, in essence, been openly selfish and they don’t even really hide it anymore. The things they say reflect the attitudes of people who believe they have an inherent right to be in power, while also taking no responsibility for the wellbeing of the average person.

This is a government that believes in trickle down economics, or the idea that ensuring that the richest get more and more money means that it will eventually trickle down to those at the bottom. Unsurprisingly, this is not a model respected by most economists. But you know what I think has trickled down? Their selfishness. They’ve taught people to think that poor people and minorities are the reason that there are problems in the country, so the average person then starts to think that other people in situations just like themselves are in that situation because of their own mistakes. They believe they’re better than the rest and that then breeds selfishness.

As much as I do have faith in humanity, people in general are very impressionable. The government has been like a disease, slowly making people more and more selfish… I’m just looking forward to the time when they reach their breaking point and realise what’s been happening, I can only hope this happens sooner rather than later and compassion and empathy become the norm once again.

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