Saturday, June 7, 2014

I embrace inequality!

I have to tell you, I am not winning my fair share of basketball games these days. And I work pretty hard at it. Well, let's just say I play pretty hard at basketball once or twice a week. There's this guy named Nick who I've been playing against for over twenty years. I used to beat him one-on-one all the time. In fact, in the beginning it was so lopsided in my favor that I'd often let him win just to keep him interested. He and I, early on, were the definition of inequality---of have and have-not. I owned every advantage.

Funny thing is, today, inequality remains, however there's been movement between the classes. Yes, the man who once occupied the top tier has been replaced by a harder-working and substantially more talented player. Not to mention, today, Nick enjoys a three-inch height, a thirty-pound weight, and a nearly twenty-seven year advantage over me.

Now, I guess I could get all worked up over this glaring inequality, this extreme unfairness. I could try and conjure up some new set of rules that would tilt the court in my favor. Maybe threaten some sanction onto Nick if he doesn't agree to tie one hand behind his back each time we play. After all, he's my son, and he works for the firm. Although, while he'd remain my son, I'm sure he'd quit the firm and refuse to ever play basketball with me again if I threatened his livelihood in an effort to reduce him to my level.

The fact of the matter is, Nick, by nature of his age, physique, talent and work-ethic is simply better than me at basketball. I could attempt to manufacture myself some advantage, however, were I to succeed (and were he to stay in the game) I would in no way become more productive myself---I would simply make Nick less productive and, therefore, lower the quality of our basketball. Come to think of it, I'd surely become less productive as well. Having to compete with his talent has made me a far better player than I otherwise would've been. Yes---while, by comparison, being a "have-not"---allowing, embracing even, inequality has made me better.

Some time ago, I listened to Bill Gates---in an interview with Charlie Rose---describe his feelings of guilt during high school math classes. While his classmates would struggle with the chalkboard equations, he would get them instantly. It just didn't seem fair that what came so easily to him was so difficult for others. Gates was born with a brain that made school a breeze and---like other mega-achievers in his field---would ultimately create a great divide between his and the average thinker's lifestyle. Oh, but what that brain---free to exploit its every advantage---has created for us average thinkers in the process.

I truly celebrate inequality: The mental, physical and material advantages so many others have over me. They---in what they have created for, and/or inspired in me---have, without exception, enriched my life.




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