Running the gauntlet of life

Imagine the day you were born you were tossed into a narrow hallway, and the door was slammed shut behind you. There were no doors, holes or windows anywhere along the entire hallway. At the far end was a distant, bright light, like a star shining on the horizon. Lined along the wall the entire way was everyone you would ever meet.

The floor of the hallway is made of tiles so long it took 12 hours to walk across one. The tiles were alternately coloured, black and white. As you walked across each tile, everyone you would meet during that time was standing on either side of the hallway before you. You couldn’t touch them, and they never said anything to you though you could hear them talking to each other. As you pass each one they project their treatment of you into symbolic physical gestures. They might give you a pat on the back, lend a supporting arm, punch you, stab you in the back, kick you when you’re down, spit on you, turn away, glare at you, check you out, shoot you, and so on. If you would have met a person in real life more than once then you’ll pass by them that many times as you walk down the hallway.

Everyone is raised on the same advice for how to endure the gauntlet, but the gauntlet is significantly different for everyone. If you add up the total number of times each person got a pat on the back, a punch in the face, a bullet to the chest, a kiss on the cheek, a supporting hand or a kick in the groin you’ll find wildly different results.

What level of difficulty you play the game of life at is randomly set at birth, and the reality of life is that the people who are most likely to succeed are the people who are given pats on the back and supporting arms all the way along. The people most likely to fail aren’t the ones who put in the least amount of effort. The people most likely to fail are the people who are punched in the face, kicked in the groin, yelled at in their ears and had buckets of shit thrown on them every week of the first third of their journey. Sure, if they hardened up and pressed on stronger they could still pass the gauntlet, but understand that that’s equivalent to a winning a boxing match against an opponent 3 times your size. And if the luck of the draw had you fight an opponent half your size and you won, just be aware of how shallow it is to tell people who lost their wild card fight against an opponent 3 times their size that they should have tried harder.

And if you see someone pissed off, dejected, down and weak. Don’t be so quick to be the next person to spit on them. If they look in a miserable state they’ve probably been through a miserable state, and it’s not because that’s how they wanted to live their life. They’ve probably been getting abused and ignored along their hallway for some time, and if that’s been going on for a long time there’s probably no reason it’ll stop any time soon. If you see these people it means that you’re standing in their hallway. You can stand in their hallway all day and make excuses for why it their own fault they’re lying on the ground covered in dirt and bleeding, but at the end of the day, will you be one of the few people in their hall to lend a hand or will you be one of the many who turn and walk away?

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