People are great. People are everything. People are everywhere. People make great things happen. People can become your whole world, the object of your adoration, and they can make everything feel worthwhile. Yet sometimes people who mean everything to others, can become very small against larger structures.
A person can feel powerless in the face of non-persons. For example, a student struggling with their landlord feels they have no power to act. A person who is unable to work, or unable to find work, becomes just a statistic or a piece of data to be dealt with by Work and Income.
Time and time again people are faced with faceless institutions. bell hooks, an academic, author, and activist, theorizes that as a society we live in a “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” Her statement highlights perpetuated institutions, that obstruct people from being equal. Until they are eradicated we will remain unequal.
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Recently the internet has been full of discussion around Kesha and the court case that didn’t rule in her favour. The ruling dictated that, despite her allegations of abuse, mistreatment, rape, and the general risks to her wellbeing, she was required to keep producing music for Sony, under a producer who was also her abuser. Kesha’s safety and rights as a human, as an individual, did not override the legal agreement she had with her recording company. Not only is it scary because of the real life threats it poses to Kesha, but Sony’s win represents a ruling for the supremacy of big business over people’s livelihoods.
Following this same line of inquiry, Finn Teppett takes a look at a modern day villain—Martin Shkreli. A man whose profit instincts override those in need, whose actions are somehow unable to be properly pulled apart and cross-examined because, as Finn explores, capitalism protects the principle of individual success even when it is unethical.
But then there are those who work on a small scale to reset the effects of a system that hasn’t worked, and are trying to be a tide of change in narrowing waters. We talked to Benjamin Johnson of The Free Store, about the work he is doing. What struck us was they way in which he saw social justice being redistributed along with the food. He describes his attempts to remove the boundaries and labels that segregate our society, between rich and poor, between well and unwell, between deserving and undeserving—between us and them.
There are people who have more power and influence than others, and wield it to their own whim and to the detriment of the people they perceive to be below them. We’ve probably all felt it at some time, that feeling of being a small bug under a large shoe.
People are doing wonderful work for other people every day. Think of the volunteers at the Women’s Refuge, doctors, nurses, VUWSA volunteers, lecturers, tutors, teachers, there are many people who devote parts of their lives to help others.
People are the driving force of this magazine. We make it for you people, and it’s done by an extraordinary team of people, nearly all of whom volunteer countless hours of their time to make Salient happen every week. Salient would not exist without the passion, love, and hard work of all of the people who contribute to it.
Good or bad, people are people. We hope you enjoy the people issue (do you reckon we have said people enough?).