Double Bind, E.g.


by Eli S. Evans

Because I neglected to turn it off in the morning, when I press the ignition button to start the car after work the radio immediately kicks in, blaring at highway volume. It is set to a public broadcast station, and I have tuned in, this time without intending, at just the moment in an interview or conversation (impossible, out of context, to know whether it is the one or the other) in which a woman is saying, with detectable emotion in her voice, “I don’t know the answer to that question, but what I do know is that if we could somehow manage to put our politics aside, it would be possible for us to cut child poverty in half.”

So let us suppose for a moment that we (whoever we happens to be) were indeed able to put our politics aside, thus creating the necessary conditions for cutting child poverty in half. At that point, before proceeding with the task at hand, we would have to decide which half of the world’s poor children to save and which to sacrifice, for the sake of the former, to the wolves of scarcity. Another possibility, of course, is that, taking a more egalitarian approach, we might opt instead to simply reduce the poverty of all of the world’s poor children by half without, in so doing, rendering any of those children no longer poor.

One way or another, in so far every decision about how to distribute the bounty of nature and human enterprise is unavoidably political, in order to choose a course of action we would be required to take up the politics we’d so magnanimously put aside in the first place, at which point, if the woman on the radio is right, it would already no longer be possible for us to cut child poverty in half.


About the Author:

Eli S. Evans thinks that over the long haul it probably takes more work to have a horse than a child.

Image by Banalities via Flickr (cc).