Monday, November 04, 2013

The Myth of the Equal Start, part one

This post has been longer in the making than anything else I have ever put on this blog.  It was years ago that I published the first part of this, so long that I don't recall the title of that post and am not feeling up to digging through old ones to find it and link.  One of the reasons I hesitate is because it will make me sound kinda liberal and maybe alienate some people and I really don't want to do that, but the truth generally lies far outside the liberal/conservative dichotomy anyway.  So, buckle in and prepare your vitriol for the comments section. (Also, since I am not at all immune to blog trends, there will be terrible pictures involved.)

Let me start out by telling you a story.  It's about two towns and the people in them and the distance between them.


This is PoVille.  It looks nice enough to the people who live there.  Nothing's really fancy, but their whole family is here, maybe minus a person or two.  As we learned in school, there are all sorts of families.  There are some with two parents, some with only one, some with three or four (yay stepparents!) .  Some families have one or two kids, some five or six, some none, and every other permutation you can think of.  Family, of course, is very important to the PoVilliens.  They look out for one another and want the best for each other.  Sure, the folks of PoVille have their problems, but by and large they get by.


This is PerityVille.  It looks nice enough to the people who live there.  Nothing's really fancy, but their whole family is here, maybe minus a person or two.  As we learned in school, there are all sorts of families.  There are some with two parents, some with only one, some with three or four (yay stepparents!) .  Some families have one or two kids, some five or six, some none, and every other permutation you can think of.  Family, of course, is very important to the PerityVilliens.  They look out for one another and want the best for each other.  Sure, the folks of PerityVille have their problems, but by and large they get by.


They sound pretty much exactly alike, don't they?  And there really are many, many similarities, even once you look past the surface.  There is one big difference, though: the people of PerityVille spend a lot of time thinking about the people of PoVille.


A lot of the PerityVilliens think that the folks in PoVille are all good, no bad.  They are, of course, wrong.


Conversely, a lot of PerityVilliens think that the PoVilliens are, to a person, horrible, untrustworthy folks.  They are, of course, wrong.

In news which will surprise next to no one, some PerityVilliens think that PoVilliens are stupid, and some think that they're lazy, and while there is some overlap, it pretty much lines up like you see above.  We should note that the PerityVilliens who think of the PoVilliens as a bunch of benevolent dunces like to fancy themselves superior to the ones who think of the PoVilliens as slatterns.  They are, of course, wrong.


Naturally, reality is far more complicated.  Some PoVilliens are wonderful people.  Some are shitty people.  Some are both, depending upon circumstances, while the vast majority are neither.


The folks in PerityVille are...Well, pretty much exactly the same as the folks in PoVille, actually, except for generally thinking they're better than the folks in PoVille (something which is true for almost all PerityVilliens, no matter how they look upon the folks in PoVille).


So, why do PerityVilliens spend so much time thinking about PoVilliens?  Well, it just so happens that PerityVille is the place to be.  Everybody in PerityVille agrees on this, and so do a a lot of the folks in PoVille.


The problem lies in the distance, and in perception of it.  Here we see PerityVille up top and PoVille down below.  It's not an insurmountable distance, by any means, but most of the folks in PerityVille don't have a clue how the trail actually is.


Most of the people in PerityVille think there is a broad, wide road between them and PoVille, and that it's an easy jaunt up a small hill.


In reality, the path from PoVille to PerityVille looks more like this.  Not only is it incredibly long and meandering and difficult, it is tiny and nearly impossible to find, and that's if you know it's there. 


You see, for a significant proportion of the PoVilliens, PerityVille may well not exist, near as they can tell.  See, they don't know anyone in PerityVille, and they don't know anyone in PoVille who has visited PerityVille.  Sure, maybe Aunt Myrtle's second cousin's hairdresser's ex-boyfriend moved there, but no one's heard from him in years, so who knows what really became of him?  Why should they even worry about leaving PoVille?  After all, it's a nice place.  It was good enough for their mother and grandfather and their entire family.  And their family is pretty damn great, so PoVille is good enough for them too.  To hell with PerityVille anyway, right?


So why is it that PerityVilliens think it's so easy to get there?  Because sometimes an exceptionally clever PoVillien will figure out a way around the obstacles that lie between the towns.  And if he can do it, surely all those other folks can too.


Complicating matters are the folks who fight their way along the path between the two, and end up thinking that anyone can do it, because they somehow have missed the fact that they are stone-cold badasses.


Of course, there are some people in PerityVille who know the truth about how hard the path is.  Maybe they took it themselves, or maybe their grandmother did and told them about it, or maybe they talked to one of the lucky people and heard about how clever they had to be to bypass it.  Whatever the case may be, for the most part the other folks in PerityVille don't want to hear it.


Why is that? Well, there are some folks in PerityVille who have decided that other PerityVilliens are mean, evil people who exist only to keep those sweet innocent PoVilliens from coming to PerityVille.  (Remember, almost all PerityVilliens think the road is wide and easy, regardless of what they think about the people in PoVille.)  Whether they actually believe this or just claim to because it helps them to control other PerityVilliens is a story for another time.


Another issue at play is that nearly every PerityVillien really does think he or she is better than PoVilliens.  Some of them feel very bad for the PoVilliens (usually the folks discussed above, and those who feel the PoVilliens are stupid).  Some just feel superior to them (usually the ones vilified as above, and those who think PoVilliens are lazy).  But they all think the PoVilliens are lesser folk.

 And so, the disconnect continues.


The End.

Upon coming to the end of my story, I realize that this is becoming ridiculously long, even by my standards.  So I am going to cut it here and publish the rest of it tomorrow.  And I promise this time that it will be published tomorrow; I'm going to write it right now and schedule it ahead of time.

1 comment:

3boxesofbs said...

Sabra,

You raise a lot of great points and most of them I agree with. The road is harder than most people think but at the same point, here in America that road is easier than just about any other country.
Please don't forget that point, it is very important. We have fewer barriers (religion, social / clan status, et) than just about any other place on Earth.

Not only is it incredibly long and meandering and difficult, it is tiny and nearly impossible to find, and that's if you know it's there.

The other part that I have trouble with is this -- we don't have to know where the road is. Helps greatly don't get me wrong.

But knowing we don't want to stay where we are at is a HUGE part of learning the correct path.

I call it The Power of NO -- do you want to stay in the same neighborhood your family for 10 generations has been -- NO.
Do you want to do drugs like many of your friends -- NO.
Do you want to be uneducated and work in a menial job -- NO.

The NO shows where not to go; it shows where the wrong path will take a person.

Once people realize there is another way; then they have made the first steps on the right path.
I'm not saying it is easy to realize there is another way; culture, tradition, lack of eduction all play a huge role in that.....but it truly boils down to a binary solution set -- stay the same or change.

And that brings up my last point -- the solution may be binary but the end result isn't. Doesn't have to be parity or poor -- there is much room in between.