Who Do You Think You Are


Trump said something dumb the other day. And while it was a lot like the other dumb things he says, it fell into a particular sub category of stupid. He said that he would have run into Stoneman Douglas High School unarmed if he’d been there while there was an active shooter.

Trump is often hyperbolic in his self appraisals. He’s the smartest he’s the best he is the most loved and loves the most. But then there’s another category of lie. Like when he said that he’s self-made, save for a small loan from his father. Never mind that the loan in question wasn’t small – he imagines that he would have been the same person regardless of the advantages he had. That the only difference between him and people who didn’t build an empire is talent and determination. Not connections. Not a name. Not a safety net. Not mentorship. Not sociopathy. Not narcissism.

It’s a popular form of self-delusion. Imagining what we would have done in someone else’s shoes. Dismissing racism and sexism and xenophobia as imaginary so that we can excuse our privilege as earned.

But it doesn’t even require empathy to imagine that we didn’t get where we are without some good luck. Or to imagine that even in the absence of good luck that things might be worse. Or to accept that people aren’t lying when they tell us about their own particular case of bad luck. Just a bit of self reflection.

Sometimes I see people who live on the street and I consider that there were months that the only reason I made rent was because I had my husband to make sure I got to work in the morning no matter how bad the depression got. And I had a father I could call when my husband didn’t know the right thing to say because I lost all sense of who I am. The only difference between me and the person on the street is that I have people who are willing to help me, who have found ways to help me, and a condition which can be helped.

Or I could draw the conclusion that I’m somehow better. That I work harder or that I am smarter; that the way I look and the people I was given access to didn’t make a difference. But I’d be lying more to myself than to others.

Posted in: Progress

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