I recently read a quote that said “The measure of a society’s freedom is not how it treats its good, obedient citizens; its how it treats it dissidents” (Glenn Greenwald). I’ve been reading about different topics that oddly enough relate to this (democracy, progress, the murder of a controversial film producer, immigration problems, missing students in Mexico), and I couldn’t agree more with the quote. Treating good citizens well is nothing strange. I remember a teacher friend once told me that teaching the high level English groups was nothing extraordinary. They tend to get the job done. The interesting groups are the low level groups or the students that just don’t want to do the work. Getting them to work, to learn, to become better people is what is key.
I am not trying to say that we must change these dissidents to good obedient citizens. Some people refuse to change for many reasons which are irrelevant to this post. What we need to observe in our country, our cities, our work and even with our family is how do we treat those people who are outside of what we consider correct. First and foremost, we should treat everyone with respect. I have caught myself many of times treating people who have hurt me or who I disagree with with disdain. They are not in my circle so I don’t care about them. Is that fair?
I am a terribly optimistic person that believes that every person’s actions can make the difference. I know I have no real, immediate influence in what happens in politics. I cannot end discrimination, I cannot demand prisoners or protesters to be treated fairly and have any real immediate effect. What I can do is treat those around me well, and hope they do too. Slowly but surely, this basic humane action will spread. It seems like a better plan than to just sit around and complain of abuses.