Seeing people as people

Yesterday, Mitt Romney gave a speech and articulated a very clear case against the GOP front runner. Watching this whole mess unfold is becoming less funny-it’s time for this primary to end. On the train, reading articles, and the headline to this one caught my eye. 

Wow, I identified with this piece. There’s so much more to it than the Republican/Democrat headline. I’ve never been a Republican, but due to what the writer aptly describes as the “enormity of advantages,” this country grants to people purely on the lottery of birth, his awakening, and awareness to a life outside his worldview, resonated with me.

Admitting privilege, recognizing naïveté, ignorance, whatever you call, it is not easy or comfortable. There’s always the qualifier of “I didn’t have it that easy,” or the fear that admitting advantage negates the sweat and tears of hard work. How much good conversation and problem solving do we avoid because we’re scared to admit…for too long, we just thought our “normal is the normal.”

From the article:

“That night, I told my roommates about the crazy thing I had heard that day. Apparently there were people out there who had never been to something as basic as a real restaurant. Who knew? 

One of my roommates wasn’t surprised. He worked at a local bank branch that required two forms of ID to open an account. Lots of people came in who had only one or none at all.

I was flooded with questions: There are adults who have no ID? And no bank accounts? Who are these people? How do they vote? How do they live? Is there an entire off-the-grid alternate universe out there?

From then on, I started to notice a lot more reality.”

I like to think I’ve never been as naive as this, but honestly, I’m embarassed to admit I’ve had similar moments of noticing “a lot more reality.”

Still have a lot more noticing and learning to do.

For now, a few more wise words from the writer:

” ‘Bootstrapping’ and ‘equality of opportunity, not outcomes’ make perfect sense if you assume, as I did, that people who hadn’t risen into my world simply hadn’t worked hard enough, or wanted it badly enough, or had simply failed. But I had assumed that bootstrapping required about as much as it took to get yourself promoted from junior varsity to varsity. It turns out that it’s more like pulling yourself up from tee-ball to the World Series. Sure, some people do it, but they’re the exceptions, the outliers, the Olympians.”

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