Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Monday 26 May 2014

Letter of the Week: ‘I’m OK, Jack’ attitude to teachers is bad for our entire society

A long time ago I saw a large banner with the headline, “What we want for ourselves, we want for others.”
Those words froze me in a paralyzing cognitive dissonance.
No doubt, I wanted a lot for myself, but did I want the same for others? Categorically “no” was the answer that had me so tied up in my uncomfortable thoughts of greed and selfishness. Am I really a person that doesn’t want good things for others?
For me, this was a “coming to Jesus moment.” I soon realized that all my past griping about what others deserve or don’t deserve was carefully cloaked in my “screw you, I’m OK Jack” mentality. That attitude is built on fallacies like, “my dollar will go further if everyone else is broke.”
Studies show that we compare our incomes to our neighbours and not the millionaires who live in a gated community far from the struggling family of Joe and Jane Lunchbucket.
I’ve since matured and found good reasons to want my neighbours to do well but I didn’t have to change my selfish thinking! I realized that it serves my interests when my neighbours do well. When they are able to achieve the good life, I can expect less crime, more education (therefore I get better service where those kids are employed), that house values stay high due to my neighbours maintaining their property, more consumers with disposal income means a better economy so my children can be employed.
That said, when a millionaire hockey player does well, my benefits are few. I don’t live beside male millionaires who knock a rubber disc around with a piece of curved wood. However, a teacher is one of my neighbours. In addition to the reasons above, I benefit when teachers do well.
In reviewing what the teachers are asking for, I find that not only is it fair, but their interests are virtually identical to my interests as a parent — smaller class sizes, etc. It seems to me that this fight between our teacher-neighbours and Premier Christy Clark’s government is much bigger than my inconvenience in finding childcare during a strike. It is about our precious children getting a quality education, our neighbours having an opportunity for the good life and fairness for people who work hard.
I want the best, most talented people chasing education careers and so should you. If that means that millionaires have to pay slightly higher taxes, I’m OK with it.
Greg Engh, Mission


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