Fight the system, sometimes

Sarah Eckrich
Opinion Editor

April 17, 2014

Tuesday morning, I overslept—something I do a lot—and rushed to work without my lunch.

I work at the Woolrich store, so come my lunch break, I’m not exactly centrally located to a lot of dining choices. There’s a Subway at the big ol’ gas station in McElhattan and by lunch on Tuesday, amid the sleet and gloom, a toasted sub sounded like a cozy comfort-food option.


Not that the sub let me down—toasted meats, cheeses and veggies are hard-pressed to disappoint me—but I got a free morality lesson with my footlong that got me pretty heated.

First things first, you don’t preach to your customers. That’s bad customer service. You also shouldn’t preach vintage viewpoints.

What started as a casual discussion between employees and customers went south. The sandwich assembly girl spoke jovially about how she fights the system every day; I added “as long as you don’t get caught.” And the chick at the register turned stone-cold serious. Then she went on to tell us that you always pay to play and that she was raised to do what you’re told.

The sandwich artisan sliced my sub and slipped away; the cashier argued with me about how two wrongs don’t make a right.

Ultimately I told her to each their own and wished her a nice rest of her day. Her response was a noise of acknowledgment coupled with a sneer.

I mumbled to myself when I left about witchy women and not asking for life advice with lunch. I drove back to my store, annoyed, fingernails digging small foam moons out of my steering wheel cover.

I’m not saying this girl was entirely wrong—two wrongs truly don’t make a right. But she clearly didn’t see how that argument actually contradicts and undermines her belief that one should not fight the system.

Consider, for a moment, the Holocaust. Hitler’s fantasies about a superior race led to a system that demanded of its workers the merciless imprisonment and slaughter of innocent people. That was pretty wrong.

But by the moral upbringing of my Subway lecturer, it was right for the Nazis to kill without question or opposition to their orders because that was what the system asked them to do.

Call me radical, but I call that a perfect example of two wrongs not making a right. I call that just the kind of situation where fighting the system would have been morally just and where playing by the rules was morally abhorrent.

In history, the movements for both civil rights and women’s rights were fights against the system. Likewise, every protest and demonstration that takes place at Lock Haven University is a form of fighting the system.

A few years ago, many of us gathered to protest cuts to funding for higher education in Pennsylvania. Every year, we host events like Take Back the Night that fight harmful social systems. When we try to enact change and voice dissent about use of our tuition dollars, we’re fighting the system.

What I’m getting at is that we are surrounded all the time by people and groups fighting the system. It is often a necessary precursor to progress. The system—any system—is bound to develop flaws. Sometimes the only way to fix the system is to fight it.

You shouldn’t adhere to practices that aid outmoded and oppressive systems. Speak up for what you believe in and make your actions match. Tis better to toil nobly against evil than to accept it and live easy as a law-abiding criminal.


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