I love the concepts presented in the Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Ask for what you want the universe will grant your wish and you will be happy and flourish. Which is a great and simple way of explaining hard work, good friends and sometimes privilege.
This isn’t to bash Amanda Palmer or call her philosophy bull shit, but it’s to point out the flaws in such thinking in the wider picture of what I feel are first world problems and ideas. We, as americans tend to believe that we are owed certain things in life. Which no doubt our upbringing and encouragement in public schools enhances that thought process.
We are told, “you can be anything you want to be” which may be true for some people, but for others the goal is extremely hard to reach, if not completely unattainable. It’s unrealistic to believe someone like me that struggles with math is ever going to be an astronaut. Or that someone that struggles with reading will ever be president. It’s not that they couldn’t even do those jobs, but that it’s not realistic that those expectations exist. The reality is that different people’s brains work differently and that some things just aren’t going to happen. Dreams are important, but so is humility and accepting you are poor at something is nothing to be ashamed of.
However, some of the bigger constraints come with our racially and class divided world. Though America tries to label itself as a land of opportunity, it is extremely hard for kids in poverty, or that are part of a minority to get ahead in a way that is on par with their white counterparts. Go here for more information. Beyond anything you are born into sometimes life is just hard. Parents don’t always step-up how they should. Kids don’t always have good encouragement. Some kids suffer with learning disabilities that go unaddressed for years. But this isn’t about education, it’s so much more.
Now I believe that all people deserve educational opportunities and the chance to thrive no matter what they are born into. If we could eradicate global poverty imagine what could get done! And my hope is that humanity will get there one day. Yet in the meantime we need to think about our advantages and be thankful for what we have in our life.
This does not mean we stagnate anything in the advancements of people, or give up on causes, but rather let’s assess how we get anywhere.
We get places because of others. We get places because of our race, and our class and our parents, and how well those things work together to get us through childhood. If those things don’t work together, then let’s hope you have 2/3 or 1/3. Then if not those maybe someone believed in you. Maybe someone worked two jobs so you would have enough food and clothes to wear. Maybe someone gave you free rides to a job, or stayed up all night tutoring you.
Regardless, we rely on other’s and their ability to share their resources with you. So my point back to Amanda Palmer and others is, let’s remember to thank every person that buys a song, and that gives us a cheap apartment. Unfortunately that was what put me off of her book, and why I only read a third of it. It all sounded like a love letter to herself and why she got what she did, not the reality of a massive fan base and supportive relationships.
Let’s thank our parents for keeping us out of debt for school, or for helping us manage it if they can’t. Let’s thank people in our society that have worked for civil rights and have fought for decades to improve working conditions, or women having a right to vote and work. Let’s applaud those benevolent wealth holders that support campaigns to support cancer research and hospitals. All of these things make the world go round.
So let us not forget that when we ask and receive, remember there is someone else on the line. Or when someone asks from you, remember when you asked too. If we all considered this aid system, if we all tried a little harder to hand-out and not just take, then equality may just be more prevalent. I know I sounds like a socialist (okay I kind of am one) but the reality is that human advancement comes with working together. It comes with checking our privilege and making sure we don’t use it to oppress others. It comes with speaking out and helping others up, not with stomping on toes.
No doubt most of you practice many of these principles, but I ask you to really think too how others have helped you in the smallest ways, and pay it forward. Just thank those that have been there. Thank them publically and thank them vocally. Even a cup of coffee can change someone’s life. It has mine.
Thank you for reading, sharing, subscribing and caring about my work!
Rebecca Lee Robinson