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Privilege

18 Dec

lilyfuredisubway1934

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.

N-Train

Painting by Lily Furedi

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