Courage at Twilight: Getting to Know the Neighborhood

After more than a month, I finally managed a bike ride, not on a pretty mountain trail, but on the neighborhood streets.  What lay beyond the mechanized gate was a mystery to me, though hundreds of noisily cars and trucks come and go daily, each stopping to provide identification.  The guard raised the gate with a friendly wave, and I passed into Pepperwood.  I rode on quiet winding streets with quiet expansive yards and quiet splendorous houses, pushing up steep hills and careening down—the radar speed limit sign clocked me at 29 mph in a 25-mph zone.  I pondered on the Pepperwood privilege even as I admired the expensive yards and houses.  Lincolns and Cadillacs in the driveways.  Tennis courts and pools in the back yards.  Turrets and wrought iron fences.  I am uncomfortable with money, perhaps because I don’t have much.  I do not begrudge these people—I know many of them, and they are law-abiding, religious, and kind—but I cannot help comparing their power and privilege with humans of equal worth who have none of this wealth.  But then, am not I also privileged, riding my mountain bike on a paid holiday with a salary and insurance and a 401(k)?  Yes, I am.  Privilege is no single condition, but a spectrum, a sliding scale, a degreed thermometer, and we are all both blessed and cursed with it to some degree.  This is what we must beware: privilege turning into pride.  Pride is humanity’s downfall.  Such were some of my thoughts as I sweated uphill and thrilled downhill and watched for cars zipping out of driveways and watched for mule deer pronking across the narrow streets far inside the gates.

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