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.
Sounds like you enjoyed your bike ride lost in your thoughts, Roger.
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