18 Dec


In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether “we, the people” is a moral compact embedded in a political contract or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.  — Bill Moyers

It’s a privilege to ride the subway.

It’s a privilege to be jostled and annoyed,

to be forced into a world of people who are different,

and to find a way to make it work.

It’s a privilege to deal with the crazy,

and to sometimes be crazy myself,

for I have been that guy on the train

and have learned, as a result, not to judge.

Not to judge the sour man who scowls at my son, only to lean in and whisper “He’s smart!”,

or the elderly woman who says no to a seat, grateful but proud of her strength,

or the tattooed young man who gives up his seat for the mother no one else sees,

or even the tourists in their too-bright clothes, the ones who used to be me,

clinging and stumbling as the floor moves beneath them, desperate for a place to land.

It’s a privilege to feel that discomfort.  

It’s a privilege to feel discomfort at all.

A gift of grit, necessary for the pearl.

And for those of you who will not ride,

who are above rubbing shoulders with the world,

let me tell you a little secret:

It is your loss,

and you are not missed,

for it’s a privilege you have not earned.


Painting by Lily Furedi

4 Responses to “Privilege”

  1. Barry December 18, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Very nice. The train is a facilitator of democracy in NYC. You can’t avoid it, you have to use it & so does *everyone* else. It means you can’t totally live in your own little bubble & isolate yourself from ‘those people’.
    Good luck with bonus season btw. Remember, one day, you’ll write about it.

    • dtoddbell January 2, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

      Thank you, Barry. I always enjoy your comments. See you soon.

  2. Rob Moses Photography January 1, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    That is a cool painting!

    • dtoddbell January 2, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

      Lily Furedi. From Hungary. Painted this in 1934. It is cool, as are your photographs. Thanks for stopping by.

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