Social work has always operated in the perpetual tension between “the world as it is” and “the world that we want.” That tension has never been more palpable than today, under leadership that seems bent on destroying the last vestiges of our ailing republic.
A president who can pardon the criminal human rights violator Arpaio, who can mock the Constitutional separation of powers while refusing to decry racist rhetoric, and who can ratchet up talk of war and tax cuts for the rich while undermining health care coverage for low-income citizens, such a “leader” can do anything. And political party leaders who claim to be “conservative,” but fail to challenge the radically destructive acts of a self-absorbed and incompetent autocrat, are no better than sycophantic Praetorian Guards sucking up to a corrupt Roman emperor for their own vile purposes.
Facing the reality of current circumstances, our profession’s obligations should be clear: We must resist all hate, discrimination, violence and scapegoating. We must insist on raising up core values of civil society, notably compassion for suffering, protection of the public good and public space, and the solidarity of all people. And we must desist from any and all forms of compliance, active or passive, with injustice, oppression, and degradation of people or planet.
We cannot progress toward the world we want until we rid ourselves of the worst features of the world as it is.