When I think about my life and what I am, I can’t say with any certainty or rationality that I had any input in being who I am. I did not choose my parents, place and time of birth, race, gender, class and any opportunities or lack thereof. My life, my birth and, subsequently, my actions and experiences were akin to a dice roll…it is by mere chance that I exist in the form I exist, or even at all.
I could have been an Egyptian pharaoh, but probabilistically I would have been an unknown slave that served the unknown needs of a known king — a short-lived existence and a tiny cog in the machine of human history.
I could be an African American man born in Baltimore and perhaps instead of writing this blog I’d be rioting in the streets— as the anger and frustration of institutional racism bubbles from deep within me and manifests violently like a divine bolt of lightening from the gods. Or maybe I’d be a peaceful protestor, or maybe I’d be a police officer trying to maintain peace among the sea of chaos, conflict and contradiction.
I could have been a terrorist and maybe from that vantage point I’d see myself as a hero, prophet or a martyr.
I could have been a serial killer, a religious zealot, a human sacrifice or an aborted fetus that never saw the light of day.
I could have been born under the reign of Nazi Germany and been coerced and convinced that their way is the true way— and perhaps then, I could have been a Nazi. My ego would prefer to think that I would be part of the resistance and I would have helped Jews escape Germany — but by that fantastic, illogical and delusional reasoning, I might as well just will myself to having the opportunity to kill pre-nazi Hitler and negate the entire existence of Nazi Germany. However, that is not the case, nor could it have been the case. The reality of such things, is that I could have been a Nazi and there is nothing in my current existence I could do to negate, change or deny that possibility.
The probability of our universe, our galaxy, our sun, our planet, our life, our intelligence our existence and the abstracted symbols you read in this blog are a mere sliver, of which we can’t even measure. And beyond that, one thing we cant measure or know is the experiences of other people in a true sense. I cant pretend to assert that I know the experiences of other people; nor can I assert that if I was randomly born in their shoes that I would do something different or live different or actualize a different existence.
Given different economics, different politics and a completely different matrix of existence…
Michael Brown could have been the one who successfully fought at destroying racial injustice….
& Freddie Gray could have been the one to help bridge us towards world peace.
Maybe that is a fantastic stretch of my imagination, but perhaps it also a fantastic stretch to be born on third base and presume you hit a triple. We all had equal chance at being something or nothing; significant or insignificant; rich or poor; you or me. And this fact— rendered through a lens of empathy and compassion— could be the means upon which we perceive all other people. Not with judgement, not with pretense and not by denying that the person you cast judgement upon, could have been, for that matter, YOU.
After all, just as much as I could have been a Nazi— so could you.