Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

A Danger To Compare

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The current emphasis on class warfare by mainstream media and political circles is creating social dissension, and is dividing rather than uniting this nation. Historically, most revolutions have started as a result of the polarizing differences between those who have more, and those who have less. There is no doubt that it exists, and is becoming more extensive. We all have a responsibility as citizens to create an environment of equality and fairness. I am not sharing these thoughts to debate a strategy on how to bring peace, but rather to encourage all of us to not allow the battle to determine our own sense of self-worth. There will always be those who have more stuff, but that is not an excuse to believe that those of us who have less are less of a person.

Each day we are inundated with what others have versus what we ourselves have. Comparing the value of one another based on things rather than substance of character is emotionally self-destructive. Greed always creates a greater potential for destructive and unethical behavior. Frequently we witness the consequences of greed and the debilitating impact it has on the ethical and moral foundation of all society. The individuals in your life who made a positive and enduring impact were never about what they owned. It was always the content of their character and the values they espoused. There will always be unfairness and inequality, but two wrongs do not make a right.

Logical, uniting and common sense actions taken by leaders to balance class differences are imperative in bringing greater harmony among the classes, and leveling the playing field. To blame and create dissension only manifests distrust and therefore initiates anger and violence. Individually, to become discouraged and angry over others’ possessions is unhealthy in regard to our own sense of self-respect. Your importance as a person is not relative to what you have, but rather who you are. I have always believed we should help those who are in need and as a community, and a society, we have an obligation to be giving to those who are less fortunate. It is when there is a loss of common cause and concern for one another that a society begins to fracture. It is more important to live a life that is a reflection of the values you believe in, then your ability to purchase another bargain. There is no doubt that it can be frustrating and dispiriting to see the lifestyles of those who have more, but to equate that to the value and self-respect we have for ourselves is a choice we make. In addition, when one uses comparison of class as an excuse for not taking ownership for their own personal and professional behavior the fight for fairness is tarnished and less credible.

It would be encouraging to witness political leaders emphasize more of what we have in common as a people than we do different. It does not negate the necessity to confront and address the social and economic issues at hand, but to manipulate the masses by exploiting their differences only makes the challenge for fairness and equality more difficult. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” It will be your strength to act on the core values you believe in that will allow you to stand in those moments. Leadership that creates mutual respect and trust is a result of skills and traits that unify not divide. As the Latin writer of maxims, Publius Syrus, noted, “The greater a man is in power above others, the more he ought to excel them in virtue. None ought to govern who is not better than the governed.”

Personal honesty is more important than personal possessions. How we treat one another, and the greater example of selflessness we demonstrate, will ultimately determine the level of difference between us as a people. We are fortunate to have the freedom to work for the causes we believe in, and therefore a responsibility to continue to strive toward fairness and equality for all.



1 Responses to A Danger To Compare


1. Gayle LaSalle Says:

Jay, What a great post! There are so many quotes in this that I'd like to reference. Of course, the concept of a common cause and concern for one another, is so important. However, the one that struck me most is: "Individually, to become discouraged and angry over others’ possessions is unhealthy in regard to our own sense of self-respect." It really speaks to me and my personal philosophy of making choices in how we deal with our circumstances. One can be envious of others or they can become more determined to change their own circumstances. Please, know this does not mean that some are in situations beyond their immediate control and need assistance. There are many though who spend too much time and energy wishing they had - rather than either finding gratitude for what they have or exploring ways to have what they really want.


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