There are two races in America. The race I’m running is the 100m. It’s tiring (I didn’t bother training properly), it’s intense but if I keep hauling my bones along eventually I’ll get to the end. Even if I don’t, someone can probably help or carry me over the line. I’ll need to make a big effort, at the end I’ll be short of breath and exhausted, but I will have run the race.
But next to me there’s another race going on. From high above the stadium, in the TV blimp or police helicopter, both races look pretty much the same in a bird’s eye view. But come down closer until you can see the faces of the runners and feel the texture of the track: These two races are different.
The race next to me is the 110m hurdles. It is slightly longer. It is harder fought. It involves more skill and nerve to negotiate. If you hit the first hurdle and stumble, it hurts but you may stay on your feet. But hitting the second, third, fourth hurdle, at some point you may well be taken down and not be able to get up at all. By then you will be hurting and winded. You can’t breathe. By then the race is lost anyway. A few adept runners may be able to excel and get safely over all the hurdles, may be able to run that extra 10m to get to the finish line. But helping or carrying someone to the end of this race, hauling them over the hurdles, is a whole different proposition.
In one race the starter pistol starts the race. In the other it takes aim.
Back at the end of my race, the 100m, the runners (who all finished) are standing around. Most are silent as a few loudly run their mouths:
“Why is everyone talking about how hard the 110m hurdles is?”
“Our race was tough too!”
“We had to run hard!”
“We had to put effort in! Nobody did us any favors!”
“If they’re complaining so much why don’t they just come run this race? They’re just being lazy”
“If it will stop their complaining, let’s just reduce the number of hurdles from 10 to, say, 5!”
Or maybe everyone should be allowed to run the same race with the same rules and the same challenges.
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