I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a failure these days.
Largely because I have failed in many of the areas of my life that I’ve been trying to succeed. (Those of you waiting for an exhaustive list of my failures, comb through the archives of this blog yourself, thanks.)
Two things occur to me:
1) Some of my current successes, particularly in relationships, owe a lot to my failures in the past. By paying attention to my failures I’ve learned what not to do or how to do things differently.
2) Everybody fails sometimes. The failure can be large or small, but they do fail. But failure is not equal.
I should have failed much worse and much earlier. But through the advantages of my birth, family, and friends, my failures have not been catastrophic. Yet
Those are not things that I earned.
Even if you want to argue that the privileges of me being a straight white educated male coming from a middle-class family did not contribute directly to my successes or somehow don’t count as playing life on the lowest difficulty setting (and if you want to argue it, you should probably watch/listen to this TED talk first), it is inarguable that those advantages and privileges have softened the blows of my failures.
This is what I want people to think about when they think about privilege now. This is what I want people to think about when politicians try to remove safety nets, or make things harder for people who have had unexpected events happen in their lives.
I want you to think about your failures. I want you to think about the help you have gotten, and how much worse it would be if you had not gotten that assistance.
If you were denied assistance, whether that denial came from family, friends, or the government, think about how much easier it would have been to recover and to make things right if you had gotten that help.
And then I want you to think about the (almost) uniformly well-off well-to-do and inherited money that makes up our politicians in the United States.
|Like this guy|
I want you to think about how none of this affects them, because they have nothing but privilege and advantages. Their idea of “failure” is losing their place in politics and moving straight into the revolving door and getting an average 1,400% raise.
If you’ve experienced failure – even on the “easy” setting I have – you know the feelings that come with failure.
I want you to think of all the shame, all the frustration, all the hopelessness, all the grief you felt.
And I want you to feel the rage at these assholes who will never feel that way, and want to make those feelings all the stronger for you and me.