Friday, November 20, 2009

Remembering the wind

Recently, during an important strategy session at United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Dr. Paul Jargowsky, a professor of public policy in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas, told a story from his own, recent experience.  It seems that last weekend the good professor took a long and vigorous bike ride.  At the half way point he felt really strong.  He was enjoying a great ride and workout.  He felt extremely alive, like he could have peddled on for a long, long time. 

Then, he turned around. 

At that point the strong, autumn Texas wind hit him squarely in the face. 

No wonder the first half of the ride felt so good.  He enjoyed the benefit of a 25 mile per hour wind at this back!  Peddling home proved much more difficult than and not nearly as exhilarating as the first half of the ride. 

He concluded that most of us don't realize that we've been riding through life with a strong wind at our backs, while lots of others ride directly into a tough gale.  Our peddling has been so much easier.  Our advantage so very clear.  Our understanding so unaffected by our privilege. 

As he told his parable, everyone in the room grew silent.  We knew he was spot on right. 

[Jargowsky, an expert in urban poverty and inner city communities, authored the important book, Poverty and Place: Ghettos, Barrios and the American City (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1997)--Winner of the 1999 Prize for the Best Book in Urban Affairs, Urban Affairs Association; Named "One of the Outstanding Academic Books of 1997" by Choice Magazine.]


Cody said...

I LOVE it. So often we fail to see the privileges that we have. It isn't because we're bad people, but because we just don't know to look and nobody has pointed it out.

Great story.

Anonymous said...

That's a powerful, and accurate, analogy.


Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Larry James said...

Chris, thank you for reconsidering your comment. I was about to respond.

Chris said...

Yeah, I didn't have my glasses and I think I had a spelling error.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had better words and could phrase my thoughts in the same way as he did. It is a good reminder of privilege and how it affects us.

Thanks Chris for choosing your words so carefully.