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Opinion

August 20, 2013

In a world of 'Elysium'

(Continued)

So the space station is not just a space station. It is the science-fiction equivalent of the gated community. Or of America as viewed from some Mexican hovel.

And Max is not just a guy with a gun who storms the space station. He is the man standing outside the gate, the poor woman fording the Rio Grande.

We have been conditioned by years of conservative dogma to view such people with scorn, as too stupid, too lazy or too lacking in foresight to rise above their circumstances — “takers” to use some Fox “News” terminology. Crippled by an “entitlement mentality” to use some more.

By the inverse of that logic we, because we live north of the border, within the gate or on the space station, were obviously far-sighted, energetic and smart enough to steer the proper course.

What narcissistic balderdash.

Yes, initiative, intelligence and planning are all elements of success.

But luck is, too, whether defined as getting a good break someone else did not get or escaping a bad one someone else could not avoid.

Point being, the membrane that divides have from have not is thinner and more permeable than those lords of self-satisfaction who go on Fox preaching the gospel of “up by my bootstraps” would have you believe. Our shared humanity demands a compassion, an ability to give a damn about those have nots, not often evident in such lectures.

Martin Luther King said it thusly: “All life is interrelated.” Meaning, what affects some of us will eventually affect us all. We must evolve humane and effective means of managing that inevitable reality.

The fantasy of escaping it behind an impermeable barrier is just that, fantasy. Because the people caught on the outside will always do what Max does, what you or I would do in the same situation: try to find a way in.

The question is not whether they will get in. It’s how we will treat them when they do.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts@miamiherald.com.

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