Beware the Easy Answer

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about the state of affairs in America. His assessment was as follows: America never goes too far one way or too far the other. It’s like a sine wave; sometimes one side is up for a little while and the other side is down, then they switch. Despite this yo-yo phenomenon, overall he felt like things were improving.

As comforting as the sentiment was meant to be, I found myself troubled by the succinctness of my friend’s evaluation. He made it sound as though we, the people, can more or less take our hands off the wheel and America will steer itself in the right direction – or that the politicians will, perhaps. To me, that was akin to saying that even without the Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage movements, that America would pretty much be where it is today.

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The American Dream and the Ghost of Mobility

As Americans, we’re a remarkably hopeful people.  A belief that, no matter where you start, you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps, work hard, and plant the posts of your picket fence, is fundamental to our identity.  But, while we do lack the rigid class constrictions of Western Europe, the truth is that upward economic mobility is fundamentally unattainable for most Americans today.  The road to real economic opportunity is a long one, but it starts with a reorganizing of our priorities.

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Come Fly With Me

The eye is one of the most complex organs in the human body. What was millions of years ago a simple concave receptor sensitive to ultra low frequencies of light has not just become an advanced organ that utilizes one-third of the nerve endings in the human body, but it has also become one of the most powerful influencers in the craft of rhetorical persuasion.  So much, that those who lack this basic faculty of perception face great obstacles in the pursuit of opportunity and equality.

I've been stewing over this for several days now, after learning of Pavel Obiukh, a Russian advocate who was denied access to a flight leaving Moscow the other week, after the flight crew learned that he was a patron who was blind.  The air carrier, S7, said it was in compliance with Russian law, which can deny access to a person with special needs if that person doesn't notify the carrier of such needs. Pavel did, in fact, notify S7, which failed to inform the flight crew, who then refused Pavel's entry onto the aircraft.

It's difficult to imagine such a situation happening in the United States, where an entire generation has grown up since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yet, American perception mirrors more of Russian shortsightedness than that of America's own foresightedness in progress for people who have vision loss.

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