Stacked Deck

The only thing that you can do in life is to use your power of choice to play the hand you are dealt in the best way you can.

The deck that hand is dealt from, though, is stacked.   It’s not fair, random balanced or equitable.

You don’t get a fair deal.  You just get the deal you get, biased by class and race and genetics and location and a thousand other factors.   The hand could always be better, yes, but it could almost always be very much worse too, especially for those of us born in first world countries.

Acknowledging the good cards we are dealt is often very tough.   We don’t compare our hand with everyone in the world, rather we compare it with people that we see around us, and that usually means the people we see as being advantaged.  Don’t we just deserve the basics, whatever we think those are, and therefore should have gotten more?

It’s easy to believe that if we just had one or two more breaks that our life would be gravy, easy and much more comfortable, without the challenge pain and stigma we face now.   Our problems are based on how we are disadvantaged, whatever that means to us.   For example, their family has Mercedes, but we only have a Plymouth, so we don’t have the status that makes their life easier.

The price of our crappy hand is right in front of us, forcing us to struggle everyday, while the price of their challenges is invisible to us.  Increasing the price of their struggles, then, is cheap for those who already have power, a wise choice to limit the demands on us and push them lower into the chain.

This divesting the cost of failed social responsibility onto those individuals actually damaged by the neglect is adding abuse to injury.

Classes that are marginalized, denied opportunities and services, and then show themselves to be less successful because they act out, responding to the deprivation they endured, end up getting blamed for being broken.

This happened with all sorts of groups, from people of colour to immigrants to women and so on.   Those who had governmental and social power made sure they were denied a fair shake and then used the damage caused to those individuals to justify their decisions: if those people were going to act in such a rude & disgraceful way, then surely we were right to deny them the rights and rewards that we as good people have earned.

The social deck is stacked, no doubt.    That doesn’t mean, though, that we can understand the unfairness just from looking at our hand and the ones around us.  It is often impossible to see the price others have had to pay for what they got, especially when we envy what they seem to have.

While we can choose to work for more fairness in the deal, the only way we can possibly do that is from a position of power.   We need to be able to convince other people to go along with our proposals, using any effective and moral techniques we can muster.

Owning our own power, though, means making the best choices to play the hand we were dealt.  Through all that deal, no matter how unfair it may have been, what we need to do the same thing we would in any situation: making considered, smart choices and putting our own commitment and energy behind them.

Making good choices means using our emotions to fuel our better judgment rather than just indulging and acting out our feelings.  By understanding that no matter how entitled anyone looks to us, they have paid their own price for the gifts given to them, struggled with their own lack, and carry pain somewhere just under their skin.   They are human.

Complaining about situations almost never changes them, almost never creates the power to make them better for us and for others.

The deck is stacked.   Life is not fair.

But the only effective thing that you can do in life is to use your power of choice to play the hand you are dealt in the best way you can.   Choose, learn, then choose again, choosing better.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
— Margaret Mead

Do you want change, changes to your life or to the world, or do you want someone to indulge your own self-pity?   You must be the change you want to see in the world and that always means making better choices, no matter how much you would rather complain about the hand you were dealt.

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