DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Disparity of Equality in a Socially Divided Age

Written by: on February 12, 2015

The Disparity of Equality in a Socially Divided Age!


February 10, 15


A very interesting book and I love some of the things Zygmunt Bauman brings out in Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age. I could have written a lot in this book because of having to experience it while growing up. My first encounter was going to Santa Monica City College and I was from South L. A. (South Central L. A.) and I really did not know that I was poor until I went to Santa Monica. That’s how you feel if you are always around people. I saw people from different races driving Mercedes Benzes, eating whatever they wanted for lunch and dressing up to date. And they were the same age as me. I began to realize that I did not want to just go to school I wanted to make sure that I did not end up the way people looked in my neighborhood when I got off the bus from school. I began to realize that something was seriously wrong with society. Its not my fault that I was born into the family I did just like it’s not the fault of a person is rich to be born in the family they did. But there are certain advantages that they will have that I don’t. Ant this is where the disparity of equality kicks in.

People love to call the welfare system a handout system. I used to think that way too but because of the advantages that some people have I don’t see that way anymore and from what Bauman said I think it should be renamed. “More than anything else, the ‘welfare state’ (which, I repeat, is better called a ‘social state’, a name that shifts the emphasis away from the distribution of material benefits and towards the community-building motive of their provision).”
A social state is a better word. People who are born in a poor sociological background need a level playing field if society is trying change the situation society is in. Case in point I remember back in the day they said that Affirmative Action was wrong. Well to me it just helps to level the playing field for poor people who had nothing to do with what family they were born in. I remember when I was at Santa Monica College I was only accepted to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in their exclusive architectural program through a program called the Equal Opportunity Program. I was a C student and that program was impacted but they allowed disadvantaged students to have a shot at learning in a major program like theirs. I know that some people miss use programs but Bauman is right when he says society should shift its emphasis to the community-building motive of their provision. I never let where I have come from stop me nor do I believe in making excuses but trust me the disparity is large to an African American from Watts than a person growing up in middle class America. “A state is ‘social’ when it promotes the principle of communally endorsed, collective insurance against individual misfortune and its consequences.”[2]

It is the job of society to have programs that help protect citizens from disadvantaged background of falling into inevitable consequences. I believe this is important in society as well as in the church. I want to at some point acquire faith-based grants to have programs at my church that can give a person a fair chance to succeed.

We are human beings and when capitalism and the development of systems that are geared to keep the poor poorer and the rich richer prevail, people begin to devalue people who are not like them. The bad thing is that’s the wrong concept. “Ever more profuse laws, decrees and orders tend to ‘radically erase any legal status of the individual, thus producing a legally unnamable and unclassifiable being.”[3] I know what that is like when society makes it harder for a poor person to make it and then call them lazy and a substandard human.

I really like this book and I want to write more on so many subjects I have encountered but now I am faced with what to do about it. And that’s what gets me the most. I still fight an uphill battle with institutions and churches that like it the way it is!



[1] Bauman, Zygmunt (2013-04-18). Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age (Kindle Locations 325-326). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

[2] Bauman, Zygmunt (2013-04-18). Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age (Kindle Locations 333-334). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

Bauman, Zygmunt (2013-04-18). Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age (Kindle Locations 2440-2441). Wiley. Kindle Edition.


About the Author


Travis Biglow

Pastor of Victory Empowerment Center. Regional Chaplain High Desert Regional Center Graduates Azusa Pacific University. Licensed General Contractor B. I am the married with one daughter, two grandsons and one step son.

18 responses to “The Disparity of Equality in a Socially Divided Age”

  1. mm Brian Yost says:

    Travis, I really appreciate your perspective. Even though we come from different backgrounds, I resonated with your statement “I really did not know that I was poor until I went to Santa Monica.” My folks we very hard workers, but were caught in the transitional phase in the 60’s when small family farms either got big and modernized or went under—ours went under. In college got angry because I had friends who referred to the “dumb farmers”. You are right when you say, “people begin to devalue people who are not like them.” My parents never talked about being poor, they just did whatever it took to provide the basics. I did not know I was poor until I was in college. I did not know I was rich until I moved to Mexico.

  2. Jon spellman says:

    Travis, you said “It is the job of society to have programs that help protect citizens from disadvantaged background of falling into inevitable consequences.” This reminded me of a quote from the book: “poor people bear their pains individually, as they stand individually accused of their (individually caused and individually suffered) defeats and misery” (Loc. 2989). This is, perhaps, the greatest travesty, not only do poor people live with the reality of structural injustice and it’s resultant poverty, they do so alone. Aloneness breeds resignation and weariness, hopelessness…


  3. mm Nick Martineau says:

    Thanks Travis…I really appreciate your personal experience woven into this. I love the change of language from welfare state to social state. Awareness and changing language are always good starts to the issue.

  4. mm Dave Young says:

    Travis (Nick too),

    I also like the name ‘social state’ over welfare, and over ‘welfare state’ for the same reason mentioned – it has a posture that leans toward the community, towards constructing solutions. Yet there is also something very wrong with this ‘society’ focus too. Bauman as a sociologist seemed to ascribe to society an almost god-like esteem. But society or community is ultimately ‘us’. It doesn’t have power that we don’t ourselves pour into it. Therefore when we’re looking to impact such significant issues as the disadvantaged, and the need for assistance lets remember we’re talking about people helping people. It isn’t the social state – it’s us. It’s us being moved with compassion… Which leads me to reflecting on if governments are really the place to count on for compassion. But that’s for another day. 🙂

    • Travis Biglow says:

      I totally agree with you Dave. Thats why i pray that i can implement programs in our church that are geared to do just that. I do believe though that government should help on a larger scale too. In my philosphy of ministry paper Azusa Pacific i talked about faced base grants. One of the faculty that i was defending my oral exam said, “so you are going to the government to help empower people, you are goin to Egypt?” Always remeber Israel accumulated all their wealth from Egypt by the Egyptians giving them whatever they asked when they were leaving there. And they could not have built the tabernacle and all its furninshing if they did have all that gold and material from the Land of Egypt. They sure did not get in the wilderness. I believe that God can use government grants and programs to his glory!

      • mm Jon Spellman says:

        And isn’t it telling that whichever side of the need spectrum informs how you feel about the terminology… I have to be transparent and honest, when I was flush with resources, with no needs, paying tons in taxes, I readily embraced the term “Welfare state.” Now that I’m on the other side of that, looking at the very real possibility of applying for some temporary public assistance for my family (medical, groceries, etc…) until new income streams develop, the term “social state” all of a sudden seems much more appropriate! uuuggghhh…. Everyday, some new wrinkle in my character is revealed by this dang DMin program!

        • mm Dave Young says:

          Dang DMin… just wish it would stop mess’en with my spiritual formation.

        • Travis Biglow says:

          Amen Jon, I know how it is to be full of money and have people I pay every friday and then go down to being on the radar financially. But i tell you the truth we have to relate to all people. I would think like wow, people should not have to do that. But i realize how it now as a pastor building a church. But I would not change this for nothing. I hate having dept and I hate the rat race. I love trusting God and living within my means. Its so much more peaceful!

    • mm Mary Pandiani says:

      Amen to your words, Travis, and then to yours, David.

  5. mm Mary Pandiani says:

    Travis – I grew up right down the street from Santa Monica College (my uncle, John McMullen) was the basketball coach for many years). And I too didn’t know we were on the “poor” side of tracks (when Santa Monica wasn’t so expensive) until we moved to Calabasas – yikes. Lots of money there, and boy did I feel out of place.
    Our other connection is that my husband went to Cal Poly, SLO, on a basketball scholarship, the first one in his family to graduate from college. He was given a chance, a level playing field, that he still attributes to why he was able to get out of arenas of addiction and despair. (Fyi – his brother just died this last week of a destroyed liver from alcoholism).
    All that to say, I recognize the value of rallying together in order to restore community, physically, spiritually, and socially.

  6. Travis Biglow says:

    Wow Mary you were from SAMO. Sorry hear about that. I wish i would have went to Cal Poly Slo. I took a football scholarship instead to Texas Southern University. I still went into construction but i think i would have loved being an architect. Thats looking in hind sight. I love what im doing today. God bless you Mary

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