Around the holiday season we see a lot of charities spring up with their bells and Santa Claus suits taking up collections and hosting expensive galas to fundraise. Many of these organizations are do asking for donations that will then go to “less fortunate” children and families. It implies that those of us in a position to give are more fortunate. We like to pride ourselves as people who give back but the implication there is that we have been given something or that we have taken something and are returning it. So many people like to claim that they are self-made or that we life in a meritocracy where each person has an equal shot as the pursuit of happiness. Annually we are reminded that this may be a fallacy. The fact of the matter is that some people are endowed with certain traits or situations that give them advantage over others at birth. It means that some people are also endowed with what could be viewed as disadvantaged.
With July being the month of our nations birth we have an opportunity to examine these genetic, social, economic, and circumstantial forces that place us on various sections of the proverbial fortune pyramid. The second paragraph of the Declaration Of Independence begins with the phrase ” We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men were created equal…” Inherent in this phrase as with much of our constitution and founding documents is a puzzling ambiguity.
How could this be true when it was written in a time where there was an active slave industry, and women were not allowed to vote, or own property? What is meant by “equal” in this passage and why does an apparent contradiction to it still linger in our society today? We’ll have to take a look at this and see if we can’t gain a better understanding.
Fortune seems to smile on a mysterious few at unpredictable times and we can credit karma, or simply dumb luck for making millionaires out of the most random individuals. Is this all a part of some grand design or are they unrelated events of coincidence? Should we find that fortune is some how a benevolent gift bestowed on a chosen people, then who are we to dispute or oppose this natural selection? Are those that are born into fortunate circumstance somehow divinely deserving like the royals of the past have presumed? On the other hand, if luck is a spontaneous force that favors those that happen to fall in its path then we can neither blame or credit those who have become fortunate under its effects.
One other possibility is that the game so-to-speak, is rigged. And there are systems in place around the world that reinforce disadvantage and even create inequality where it does not naturally exist. This analysis is critical to understanding how we might want to view our accomplishments and place in society. If we do live in a meritocracy, then do we have an objective appraisal of what warrants merit? It is quite possible that we do not, and there are some who are figuratively handicapped in this game we call society.
In the same conversation we should look at those who might call “haters” the jealous and the bitter who can not see past their own misfortune to become aware of the opportunities that lie in front of them. It would seem that each of us has a unique struggle in our lives but when we are living in a sheltered world that doesn’t allow us to face our faults aren’t those the people that are disadvantaged?
In a creative world, how does fortune, and comfort effect out lives and professional practices? Are resources a hinderance to our creativity and development or are they an aid. If necessity is truly the mother of invention, our creativity is stifled by privilege and comfort. We must look at chance, labour, entitlement, and fate if we are to have any shot at gaining a deeper understanding here.
I hope that you will stick with us as we explore, and if we are lucky we just might end the month a little better off than we started.
Founder, Citizens Of Culture