An acquaintance of mine once asked me why I believe what I believe, and what my primary goal is to advance causes that I'm not a direct benefactor of. He agreed that ethnic minorities, women and sexual minorities all have their legitimate grievances against the system, but as someone who was currently benefiting from it - a white, heterosexual man - he didn't exactly feel like going out there and join their fight. "It's not my place to be there," he said, "why do you think it's yours?" A good question.
See, I believe that flattening pre-existing power structures and barriers beyond the ones we establish during our lifetimes is a huge blessing to how people can relate to one another. This benefits the rich and the powerful, too.
- If a company owner has happier employees who are not afraid to speak their mind, their loyalty will increase and their productivity will go up. A happy employee is a healthier and a better employee.
- If (institutionalised) racism would recede, interactions with ethnic minorities would be less fraught with distrust and prejudice. Instead of some vaguely threatening Other, you gain a greater potential of friends, acquaintances, colleagues and partners.
- If women would not be harrassed on the street, faced with disbelief when speaking up about sexual assault or not be the target of constant micro-aggressions, they would probably feel more secure, open and freer to give consent. No more nail-biting about - understandably - defensive reactions.
These are just a few quick points. It might be weird that I'm framing progressive issues within a context of benefits for the power structures they fight. After all, as that acquaintance pointed out when I told him the above, he said that there are probably people who simply don't care about having happy employees, black friends or safer streets. Yes, but we call these people sociopaths. My point is that everyone has a stake in making society better. To help out is certainly not an obligation, but it sure as hell is the right thing to do.