July 10, 2022
On Sept. 24, 2020, Twitter user @pookleblinky wrote:
“Every heartwarming human interest story in america is like ‘he raised $20,000 to keep 200 orphans from being crushed in the orphan-crushing machine’ and then never asks why an orphan-crushing machine exists or why you’d need to pay to prevent it from being used.”
The thread goes on, but the point of the orphan-crusher parable is that Americans often don’t think about the structural realities that create their problems but focus instead on the micro actions of individuals seeking to mitigate them. Think of any viral, heartwarming story about a community fundraiser to pay for someone’s cancer treatment. The story is generally about people coming together to overcome adversity and rarely about why someone should have to go begging to avoid dying of cancer in the first place.
Dr. Daniel Souleles is an associate professor at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.