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“This kid was dealt a bad hand. I don’t know quite why. That’s just the way God works. Sometimes some of us are lucky and some of us are not,” he said.
That is soon-to-be-former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, commenting on an 11 year old homeless girl named Dasani whose story was featured in a 5 part series in the NY Times.
Homelessness in New York under Bloomberg has grown much more dire....but that's not what I want to expand upon from the Mayor's comment. Mayor Mike equated random luck with god dealing out the cards of life. "..just the way god works...some lucky...some not."
Randomness.....not some invisible CEO-in-the-sky.....determines much of what conservatives often attribute to hard work and rugged individualism. These last number of years our national political dialogue has been saturated with the concept of rugged individualism and hard working Randian boot strappers blazing trails of Success with their bare hands. Yes, it's all been a diversionary tactic to keep rich folks' taxes low and the safety net thin during our worst modern economic downturn......but, you know, rich folks, (and corporations) are people too my friends.
Stories about, and references to, the "successful" among us always seem to avoid factoring in the nature of randomness. I suppose part of that is because we are a vain lot....always looking to reinforce our own high opinions of ourselves.....always, like children often do, anxious to inform others, 'look what I've done.'
But think about it.....how much of your life has been dictated by simple randomness?
For example: did you choose your parents....did you choose to be born? Did you have any say about what part of the world you would be born in? Did you have anything to do with the economic or educational or genetic realities of your parents? Do you think that any of those things which you had nothing to do with.....play important roles in framing your own life?
More-conservative Americans often point to the "choices" people make as the end-all, be-all of life. In this way of thinking....which I call the "blueprint following" approach to life.....the "right" choices dictate the "success" of your life.That theory is akin to Arminian theology within Christianity which holds that one's efforts in life helps one to reach "heaven."
However, aren't the choices people make formed and shaped by where we are born, who our parents are, and intelligence and physical capabilities which were determined not by our choices but by the random fact of conception?
Do you know anyone in your circle of family, friends and acquaintances who seem to have made all the right "choices" yet have had nothing but "a bad hand" dealt to them in their lives? I do. What explains this?
The fact is that all men are not created equally. When you think about that it seems obvious, doesn't it? Of course all men are not created equally. The ideology of liberalism accepts that truth as it is and advocates for political policies which will help to balance out the many random inequalities of life. Conservative ideology, on the other hand, majors on the "self", the individual.....personal responsibility...and people making the "right choices" in their lives. One could even label this way of thinking "the selfie." In conservative thought, "success" (which often means how much money one makes) is offered up as a carrot to those who make the proper "blueprint" choices.
Which approach to human life in the 21st century is more realistic? More honest?
If randomness, as I believe, plays a much more significant role in life then usually acknowledged.....how then should a society organize itself? Doesn't the trite, non-biblical, phrase "there but the grace of god go I" apply here? Stripping the supernatural out.....wouldn't "there but the randomness of life go I" be a more appropriate, realistic and humble way to view others who are not as "successful" as we see ourselves?
Life is a journey, an adventure.....not some race against others to accumulate stuff. Whether we like it or not.....humanity is all in this thing called life...together. Because randomness determines more of our lives than we like to admit.....wouldn't it be better if our country's political movers and shakers approached their jobs with a more compassionate acceptance of the randomness of life?