Jerk alert! The following post will reveal that sometimes I can be a real jerk.
So, soon after we moved into Lot 26 last October, we met some of our neighbors. CF pointed out Roger* to me. CF knew Roger previously because Roger is a drumset player who CF sometimes sees playing out at open mics around town. Roger is also a little shy or something…when you say hello or ask how he’s doing, he often says, “Oooohh Okaaay” while turning away from you.
Anyway, because CF said that Roger played at open mics, and admittedly because Roger lives in the trailer park and acts a little strangley, I assumed he wasn’t really all that great at the drums. I know I know…I’m a jerk. In my (sort of) defense, I also compare all drumset players’ abilites to my very talented CF–and no one plays as well as my man!
So, one night I had the opportunity to hear Roger play. CF and I were at the open mic at a lovely little
dive restaurant called the Works for their weekly Open Mic. When Roger got up to play, I wasn’t expecting much, but I never expect too much at open mics. I figure if I keep my expectations low, I can often be wowed 🙂
So Roger started playing with some other guys and his drumming was pretty good…no…actually good! It was a definite moment of shame for me, though. I felt like such an idiot making those assumptions about Roger.
Since then, I’ve been thinking more about why I made those assumptions, and whether or not it’s a kind of thinking brought on by my place of privilege or by the cultural attitudes around me.
As I was trying to figure what my assumption was coming from, the first thing that came to my mind is that perhaps I am functioning under the idea that people with a low income lack talent or skills. But that’s ludicrous.
Talent or skill is not dependent on money…BUT access to either showcasing or using those talents or access to opportunities to improve and gain skills may be dependent on money. So, they don’t lack skills; they lack privelege or opportunity.
Further, perhaps I am also opertaing under an incorrect value system. Perhaps it’s not that lower-income workers lack skill…instead, it’s that our society does not value the skills they have as much as the skills that higher paid workers have.
In other words, it’s not that they lack skills, but that they lack skills of “value” in our society. Unfortunately, a lot of really important skills are not highly valued, or at least not as highly valued as other skills in our society. If we go by income alone, a money-guru on Wall Street has more valued skills than the teachers who help develop the minds of our children or the factory workers who create the very products we all depend on or the farmers who grow the food we all need to eat. Seems a little unfair, no?
Anyway, I am going to do my best to give my neighbors a bit more credit and try to see the value in the skills of everyone around me. That seems like a pretty compassionate way to live.
And that’s about all the thinking I can handle for today 🙂 Until next time, may all your homes be happy, and may all your neighbors wow you!
*Not his real name.