Monday, February 4, 2008

Questions about Personal Success

It seems like personal achievement is the ultimate success and happiness. The idea that we can transform ourselves from point A (lesser) to point B (greater). The idea that the inner-city child who attends on of the worst schools can, in some cases, beat the odds.

Is that what it's about? Celebrating the "successes" of those who beat the odds? Celebrating the heroic qualities of extraordinary individuals who somehow make it past the systemic obstacles of everyday life? Certainly, this is good news. But what about the masses? the idea of success this: to transform from the oppressed to the oppressor? To replace discomfort and hardship with comfort and a never-look-back attitude?

What is success? What does it mean when you acheive it alone? Knowing that by some stroke of luck you "made it out." What about those who are left behind? And what does that mean for my own responsibility?

It bothers me when I hear some young person say, "I didn't go to college to just: work at McDonald's, be a janitor, be a waitress." Like there's actually some sort of level playing field out there. But you know what? For most of the college-educated, there were shortcuts--no need to be extraordinary, to be heroes. Yet, we still think we're entitled. I guess it's more safe.

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