If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Monday 23 July 2012
Read gnomica 1-50 here!
“Ya gots to work with what you gots to work with.”
Stevie Wonder (13 May 1950 – )
Life is unfair – grotesquely unfair.
Let’s think about a few points:
Where were you born? Were you born in Afghanistan, say in Kunduz or Kabul or Kandahar? or in the United States, say in San Francisco or Chicago or New York City?
If the latter, on Manhattan’s upper East Side or in the South Bronx? If in Chicago, on the North Shore or south of the Loop? If in San Francisco, in Pacific Heights or the Tenderloin?
Were you born with teratogenic deficits, or were you born bright, blessed, beautiful?
Were you born male or female?
Answers to all these questions will have and do have incalculable consequences for the kind of life you will and do live – but personally you are totally, categorically not responsible for those answers. They just are what they are, and you are simply stuck with them – you had absolutely nothing to do with them!
Is that fair?
Of course not, but there it is.
Stevie Wonder’s comment – rhetorically couched as a catchy anadiplosis — addresses this monstrous injustice as strikingly as anyone’s. Teddy Roosevelt offered the same observation (which I have already adduced in an earlier context) if differently phrased: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.
I am the last person to denigrate personal drive and initiative, but at the same time I must admit that I do from time to time have to ask myself the following question: if I cannot reasonably and in good conscience ‘blame’ someone for having been born with Down’s syndrome or ugly or female in Mali, should I be ‘praising’ someone for being born in the upper sixties in Manhattan, or born heart-stoppingly beautiful, or born superbly intelligent?
I think not — and fittingly take my hat off to all the people who, not sitting around and moaning about the unfairness of their lives, just works with what they gots to work with!
And then I thankfully adds to my personal gratitude list.