On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Ben Chon, Business Administration student at UC Berkeley.
Like most children growing up, I was constantly told that, “life isn’t fair.” Sometimes, this meant my older sister got two more dollars of allowance a month and that I would have to wait until I become older. Other times, it meant that the cake was divided, and I had to deal with the smallest piece. The inequity in life was continually engrained within my mind until there eventually came a neglectful acceptance of this truth. However, I have recently found that while I was indeed informed that life was unjust, I was never truly told, or maybe I had just never really thought about, just how drastic the inequalities of the world truly are.
When most people think about inequality, they think about money. The top 1% earned about 9% of the U.S. income 30 years ago, but this number in recent years has increased to over 23%. The rich have gotten richer, and the poor are left desperately collecting the crumbs that fall under the rich man’s golden table. There are kids in third-world countries who walk miles for a gallon of water, and there are those who beg on the streets for hours to earn a meal. All these things are so hard to grasp and believe as a child, especially one who has grown up in a suburban U.S. city. Even today, I feel as if I cannot truly grasp just how drastic the inequalities in this world are. It is so easy to be stuck under the illusion that because life is good, that it is good for everyone. It is so easy to place so much frustration and importance on little, petty things that do not matter. It is so easy to think that living my own life and helping myself is all that I need to do.
But there is so much more to living than living by yourself. Some people argue that not enough people care in the world, while others, like Bill Gates, advocate that there is more than enough caring in the world, and that the real culprit is complexity. I would argue that perhaps the problem is education. Childhood is more often than not what shapes the kind of person who you become. Maybe the real way to solve the long-term inequality problems in the world is to create a long-term strategy of educating kids that life is more unfair than they think it is.