• race

    The American Race and Race

    Gather ’round, folks. Auntie Becky is going to tell you a story. A metaphor really, about race in America. And about the American Dream.

    Imagine for a moment, a long relay race where for generations it has been considered acceptable and in some cases even required to break the limbs of a one group of people trying to run the race. The people thought this was OK. After all, it wasn’t long ago that this group of people had been used as horses to pull everyone else’s carts around the track. At least they were free of that back-breaking work. Now, they just had to contend with some needed cobbling. To keep the race running smoothly. Make sure the people who have been running the race so diligently for generations don’t lose any hard-earned ground. Anyone who resists the “in group’s” right to break bones is killed, so that keeps everything on an even keel. Not a bad system, really.

    Of course, people with broken bones do not do very well in the race. Pretty quickly there are people lying all over the place with broken bones and deformities from past breaks which were never set properly. Many people in that group will simply stop trying to participate in the race. Maybe even set up little shanty towns around the track to do the best that they can outside of the race. The more ambitious set up little lemonade stands along the track and play music for the people running by to keep themselves out of the darkest, scariest parts of the shanty towns. A few are fast enough to elude those who would break their bones, but these would be few and far between. The track is littered with those who tried to be one of the fastest few but got caught. Their broken bones and mutilated corpses remind the out group not to try to hard or rebel against the natural order of things.

    Now, let’s say that after a very long time, once most of the people who are able to run the race are pretty well ahead, that people start to come to their senses and decide that it is wrong to break the limbs of the out group. So they ban limb breaking. From that point forward, a person’s success or failure in the race will depend on their efforts and abilities. Continue reading

  • American Dreams

    The Barna Group just put out the results of a survey of Americans asking about their ideal life. According to the findings, over 75% of us view the following things as “very important” parts of our ideal life:

    Have good health (85%)

    Living with a high degree of integrity (85%)

    Having one marriage partner for life (80%)

    Having a clear purpose for living (77%)

    Having a close relationship with God (75%)

    Having close personal friends (74%)

    More than half of Americans also listed “having a comfortable lifestyle (mentioned by 70%), having a satisfying sex life with their marriage partner (66%), having children (66%), living close to family and relatives(63%), being deeply committed to the Christian faith (59%), and making a difference in the world (56%).” At the bottom of the list were achieving fame or public recognition (7%), owning the latest household technology/electronics (11%), owning a large home (18%), working in a high paying job (28%), traveling the world for pleasure (28%).

    I can’t help but think when I see something like this that there is a large gap between what people say they want and what they are actually doing with their lives. On one hand, it could be that it’s so easy to say the “right” things to a poll taker. OTOH, I wonder if a big part of the problem is that while people want the right things, they do not have the tools or know-how needed to actually live them out. This is my personal theory.

    It reminds me of a question I asked a bunch of people I know a couple of months back: “Do you think that most people want to be good people and are willing to put in the work it would take for them to be good people?” Continue reading

  • The American Race and Race

    Gather ’round, folks. Auntie Becky is going to tell you a story. A metaphor really, about race in America. And about the American Dream.

    Imagine for a moment, a long relay race where for generations it has been considered acceptable and in some cases even required to break the limbs of a one group of people trying to run the race. The people thought this was OK. After all, it wasn’t long ago that this group of people had been used as horses to pull everyone else’s carts around the track. At least they were free of that back-breaking work. Now, they just had to contend with some needed cobbling. Anyone who resists the “in group’s” right to break bones is killed, so that keeps everything on an even keel. Not a bad system, really.

    Of course, people with broken bones do not do very well in the race. Pretty quickly there are people lying all over the place with broken bones and deformities from past breaks which were never set properly. Many people in that group will simply stop trying to participate in the race. Maybe even set up little shanty towns around the track to do the best that they can outside of the race. A few will be fast enough to elude those who would break their bones, but these would be few and far between. The track is littered with those who tried to be one of the fastest few but got caught. Their broken bones and mutilated corpses remind the out group not to try to hard or rebel against the natural order of things.

    Now, let’s say that after a very long time, once most of the people who are able to run the race are pretty well ahead, that people start to come to their senses and decide that it is wrong to break the limbs of the out group. So they ban limb breaking. From that point forward, a person’s success or failure in the race will depend on their efforts and abilities. Except, many of the people from the out group still have broken arms or deformities from past injuries. Some of them were born after their forbearers gave up the race as a lost cause and have never run a day in their life. Many of them have never left their shanty towns to deal with the people in the race before.

    Instead of offering training and rehab and counseling and medical care, the people in the race resentfully offer a selected few a slight head start to make up for the fact that they haven’t been able to get a fair shake at competing. Some do-gooders head into the shanty town to paint the walls of the homes of those who are least prepared to compete in the race in order to make them a little more comfortable where they are. A few people who are willing to train people stuck in the shanties make timid efforts at offering their assistance, but the do gooders painting the walls come out and say nasty things to them. So the potential trainers go back to the race and content themselves with yelling out helpful advice about moral bravery and perseverance as they run past. Continue reading