I remember reading this joke in a Michael Walsh column awhile back, and I thought it made an important point worth sharing:
It seems there were two subsistence farmers, Ivan and Mikhail, both equally poor. Then one day, Ivan somehow acquires a cow. His life immediately improves. Instead of the wife, the cow pulls the plow; the cow gives milk; it produces calves for meat and the market. Quickly, Ivan far outpaces Mikhail.
One night, starving and miserable, Mikhail drops to his knees and prays. “Oh, God,” he implores, “Ivan and I were always equal. And now look at him — rich, like boyar. So God, please, make us equal once more.” There’s a sudden thunderclap and suddenly Mikhail hears the Voice of God. “Your prayers will be answered,” says the Lord. “You shall once more be equal again.”
Mikhail practically screams with joy. “Great!” he exclaims. “You’re going to kill Ivan’s cow!”
Does this describe you? Is this what you were rooting for? Or did you think Mikhail was going to get a cow?
I think this sums up the struggle in this country. There are people who want to be equal in misery, while there are others who want to be equal in opportunity.
Personally, I’d like to see equality in opportunity. Everyone should have the opportunity to pursue their own goals and happiness. There will be variations from the success of one to the other, for sure. We can’t – and shouldn’t – guarantee results. Some will fail before they ultimately achieve some sort of success. Some may fail multiple times.
But I’d like to see our country be one in which we celebrate our successes and the successes of others. Jealousy and resentment is counter productive and gets us nowhere. May we each have a taste of success, and may that success serve to inspire others and illustrate that it can be done.
In down times, I’d rather see examples of how people were finding success rather than see examples of how people are suffering.
I’m optimistic that people can still imagine how successful they can be and can be inspired to pursue it. I know I am, and I’m ready to inspire others whenever I can.