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Advantages

ADVANTAGES

by Ruth Minshull

“All I want is a slight unfair advantage.”

I’ve run across variations of this thought many times, and I’ve found it intriguing and attractively nefarious.

Of course, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves (a great exercise now and then) this is what we all want.  We get snagged, however, on the word “unfair.”  What does that mean exactly?  I suspect that within the rules of a game any advantage is basically unfair.

For this reason, I believe, some advantaged people often spend their lifetimes counter-balancing.  That is, trying to punish themselves enough to make up for those advantages.

Many unfair advantages are genetic, although we are wide open in our options as to how we use them.

Our family background is the first factor.  It determines our class level, (I know we don’t have class divisions in this country, but let’s try being honest again), race, color and nationality—and possibly our talents.  Being born a WASP used to be considered an advantage in the United States, but I’m not sure it is any more.  We’ve felt so guilty about it that we’ve been steadily giving away the advantage to anyone who yells “unfair.”

Being tall is presumably an advantage.  Studies show that tall people generally get better jobs, more pay.  Good-looking helps too.  Being smart gives you a decided edge.  Getting born with the proverbial silver spoon in mouth always seems like an advantage to those of us who weren’t.

And, of course, there’s talent.  That intangible something that makes it possible for a person to be an outstanding singer, artist, composer or writer.  Of course, these qualities must be developed and marketed to be of any value.

I can think of many people who are gifted in one way, so they counter-balance by suffering for it in another way.

The children of the very wealthy are often drunks or druggies who squander their lives away in misery.

Some of the great masters, composers and painters have been severely handicapped–or they’ve been miserable in their personal lives.  Quite a few have committed suicide.  An incredible number of movie stars, rock stars and other celebrities turn into drug addicts or alcoholics (slower forms of suicide) after they achieve some success.

Did we agree to these rules:  that if we have an immense talent or advantage, we will amputate some other part of our lives, in order to suffer enough?

Balance the scale.  That seems to be the basic rule.

Well, I’m tired of the old rules.  I want to break them.  I’d like to be really unfair and not pay for any of my advantages.  I want to be Tall, Beautiful, Rich, Smart, Popular and Talented.  I want it all.

But I think the ultimate advantage is not paying for it.

I’d like to be unfair—and  be happy about it.

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©2010 by Ruth Minshull

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