As a heterosexual male of European descent, I find myself a part of a very unique minority group. The group to which I belong has, in recent history, run our country. The United States was founded by heterosexual males of European descent and those belonging to this culturally defined group of people have historically been privileged above all others. This privilege has inspired the spawning of numerous interest groups. In the name of equality, groups for women’s rights, LGBT rights, and ethnic minority rights, have all come forward to make their voices heard, demanding rights for the minority group to which they belong. Shows like Latino USA focus on how global issues affect individuals who belong to specific minority groups. The group to which I belong can be classified as a minority group only because belonging to this group means one is not socially permitted to demand privilege for himself solely because he belongs to this group. Further, belonging to this group has often meant being blamed for the oppression of members of other socially defined groups. In the words of Ben Folds, “It wasn’t my idea”.
Although the goal of most interest groups would seem to be a level playing field, these groups would seem to largely be concerned with their being treated fairly and not equality on a universal scale. Further, this forming of interests groups according to the socially predefined classifications of people in our society would seem to support ideas that we are different, that certain people need more assistance to achieve. There is evidence to support the idea that we are living in a society that still favors people like me. It is thought by some that the history of our country requires that we now pay privilege to those who were once oppressed. Programs formed in the pursuit of equality, like Affirmative Action, have historically imposed racial and gender quotas on college admissions and employment. This kind of policy places a person’s socially defined classification over his or her ability and merit. The path to equality is not to give anyone preferential treatment. This preference instills the idea that we are different.
It could be argued that preferential treatment for certain socially defined groups is needed for a limited time in order to level the playing field. But this division of the human race we have so readily adopted will only work to instill belief in these made up classifications. In the end, we cannot change the world for the better by implementing regulation. We can only change the world by changing hearts. Forced repression will only work to strengthen an idea. But numerous individual acts of love will change the world for the better. The way to change the world is to stop telling others what they can and can’t do and start trying to be the change we want to see in the world.