(“One of these days” I’m going to begin a systematic catalog of all the stuff I have written, so that I don’t forget pretty good stuff that I wrote, and so I can find it when — when I need it? When I want to remember what I’ve written? When I’m compiling a new book? All of the above. I found this again this week, from November 2011, and wished I’d remembered it when I was putting Refuse to be Afraid: Tenth Anniversary Edition or Echoes of Freedom Past together. But I’m glad I rediscovered it now, because it is as relevant as ever.)
I am not one of the 99 percent – and neither are you.
I am not one of the 1 percent – and neither are you.
The masses are an invention. There are no “masses.”
We are each created equal – but we are not created the same. Neither are we created as a mass. The act of creation did not produce dozens of you; it created only you (or in very rare cases, it created you and your twin, or your fellow triplets, etc. – but even then, it did not create you exactly and precisely alike).
What does this mean?
It means that no generalization can be made about any single individual. You may make the observation that most people who believe X also believe Y, but you cannot conclude that just because a person believes X that it follows he believes Y. You may collect information that most people with dark skin believe A, but you cannot conclude that the dark-skinned person you have just met believes A.
We are not part of a mass. We are individuals. We are not factory-made components. We are snowflakes, in the original sense — no two alike.
We are connected, but we are not machines – nor is any one of us merely a cog in a machine.
It is easier to deny this and turn responsibility for our lives and decisions over to a collective unit or a corporate entity, but to do so is to let our lives become less than they can be.
It is easier for me to deny your individuality and to make assumptions about you based on what group I have lumped you into, but that is a way to avoid the work of getting to know you and understand you as the unique being we both know you are.
Each of us is a singular work of art, singular in the sense of being one of a kind. Each of us has within us the potential to make art, a special art that no one else can achieve quite the same way or with quite the same perspective.
This, by the way, is why war is such a waste: Because thousands of artists and artwork are destroyed.