During mass tonight, I was sitting in the pew, trying to maintain good posture, going through a core stabilization checklist in my head (been reading “Becoming a Supple Leopard” haha). I was intermittently stretching out my neck, which is pretty sore today, and as I looked around I was kind of surprised that no one else was fidgeting and stretching, not even the old people. But back pain is one of the most common ailments in modern society (and there were so many old people!) so there must have been people dealing with neck and back pain. My random takeaway from this was: Just because people don’t look like they’re suffering, doesn’t mean they aren’t. Everyone worries that they might be the only one struggling with a certain issue or a certain kind of pain, but it’s only screaming at you because you’re the one feeling it. Others’ pain is just as real, but even if you see signs of it, you’re not actually experiencing it, so it’s easy to assume it’s not there.

Then I was a Chipotle, eating a steak bowl and reading this article. Here’s a quote:

One of the great errors of an elite education, then, is that it teaches you to think that measures of intelligence and academic achievement are measures of value in some moral or metaphysical sense. But they’re not. Graduates of elite schools are not more valuable than stupid people, or talentless people, or even lazy people. Their pain does not hurt more. Their souls do not weigh more. If I were religious, I would say, God does not love them more.

What I think I want to point out is that we’ve all been guilty of this. I’ve been guilty of it since I was admitted to Cal back in 2003 (which is funny because I’m sure ivy leaguers view us UC plebs in the same way we view the masses). Some of us are guilty of this in the same way Deresiewicz is writing about. Some folks might be guilty of this in terms of condescending towards the “lazy people”, “the whiners” etc…

I hope that the next few years sees a growth of understanding across the divide. It’s interesting because even though I currently walk and live in a political climate that is very different from the one in which I was raised, I still have a very hard time understanding “the other side”. When I hear the things people say, their reasons for believing certain things or vote a certain way, the thought process is alien to me. And yet, I know they care about others, for their friends and family, for their Soldiers, for their country. I know they live by a moral code, they work hard and try to do what’s right. I guess that’s my own shortcoming, that I am surprised that people can have different beliefs than me, and still live lives of integrity and still choose to serve others.

If we hope for a positive outcome in all of this, it’s going to a take a lot of hard work, a lot of painful individual and collective self-reflection and honesty. I hope we’re up to it.


~ by justinhong on November 13, 2016.

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