Dear Commons Community,
Charles Blow, in his New York Times column today, describes life as a hill meant to be climbed. He addresses particularly:
“Any of us in the country who were born poor, or minority, or female, or otherwise different — particularly in terms of gender or sexual identity…
Misogyny and sexism, racism, income inequality, patriarchy, and homophobia and heteronormative ideals course through the culture like a pathogen in the blood, infecting the whole of the being beneath the surface.
So it is to the people with challenges that I would like to speak today.”
“Trying hard and working hard is its own reward. It feeds the soul. It affirms your will and your power. And it radiates from you, lighting the way for all those who see you…
For some folks, life is a hill. You can either climb or stay at the bottom.
It’s not fair. It’s not right. But it is so. Some folks are born halfway up the hill and others on the top. The rest of us are not. Life doles out favors in differing measures, often as a result of historical injustice and systematic bias. That’s a hurtful fact, one that must be changed. We should all work toward that change.
In the meantime, until that change is real, what to do if life gives you the hill?
You can curse it. You can work hard to erode it. You can try to find a way around it. Those are all understandable endeavors. Staying at the bottom is not.
You may be born at the bottom, but the bottom was not born in you. You have it within you to be better than you were, to make more of your life than was given to you by life.
This is not to say that we can always correct life’s inequities, but simply that we honor ourselves in the trying.
History is cluttered with instances of the downtrodden lifting themselves up. The spirit and endurance that it requires is not a historical artifact but a living thing that abides in each of us, part of the bloodline, written in the tracks of tears and the sweat of toil.
If life for you is a hill, be a world-class climber.”