The bad news is that as emotionally compelling as many of the speeches were tonight, the key themes almost all centered around equal access to opportunity. Over and over again, the theme was that success should be available to those who work hard. Michelle Obama celebrated her father who went to work every day despite physically devastating illness just to pay for her college education, and even took out loans to make it happen. She said that it mattered less how much you made, and more how hard you worked.
And all I could do at certain points was sigh and shake my head.
No. As inspiring as I’m sure those points sound to most people, they’re problematic. We shouldn’t live in a society where a man with multiple sclerosis must work long hours just so that his bright young daughter can attend college. We should not be a society where long, hard work merely affords the opportunity at success. We shouldn’t be a society that worships people who work 50-60 hours a week at the expense of leading a decent life with time to actually raise a family and develop pursuits and interests.
We need to be a society that does much more than provide equal access to our deeply unjust and flawed pseudo meritocratic system. We need to be a society that guarantees basic dignity for all people, a society that understands that luck is just as big a factor in most people’s success as hard work, and a society that understands that there is more to human life than simply destroying one’s life and soul to maximize some corporation’s profits.