If there is a large mountain in our way, and we have to get to the other side, it doesn’t do much good to pretend that it isn’t there.
And yet, we do this all the time, not so much with mountains, as with problems. Large, obvious, societal problems, like high housing prices and low wages, or the inability of many people to afford health care, and many other overwhelming issues that have to do with money — or the lack of it. Those who don’t have enough of it must still come up with it, or else.
(Back in the day, it involved serfs and laborers paying onerous taxes — generally food and goods they needed themselves — to the king. It didn’t matter if the peasants starved; they had a financial obligation to fulfill. For the king, his major focus was getting his “contribution.” For the peasant, it was staying alive. Their perspective on the problems was different.)
“Well, what are you going to DO about it? It’s just too big to handle,” ordinary people tell ordinary people when we muse. Better to “just get on with things.”
If we have to get to the other side of the mountain, however, we can’t just “get on with things.” The mountain looms over the landscape. We’ve got a lot of serious talking to do, because the solution won’t be quick or easy.
But . . . the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging that it exists in the first place.
It seems like such a simple thing, but just coming out and saying that there is a problem –greed, say — oddly, offends some people. Because the problem is so big and seemingly insurmountable, we take refuge in throwing up our hands and letting “the people in power” take care of it. (Just as bad is polarizing ourselves: taking up Side A or Side B, and refusing to budge or listen to one another. Another bad option is blaming people for having issues with the mountain’s existence. If they worked harder, or were smarter, or weren’t so lazy, it wouldn’t be there. End of Discussion.)
The artwork, The Divide, is dominated by a mountain. It’s there. It’s obvious. It is, unlike our societal problems, quite beautiful.
Now one solution to getting to the other side would be to dismantle the mountain, but that’s not the only — or perhaps best — way to reach the other side. We can climb, we can scrabble, we can make paths up and through and over. Whatever we do will have to be in a spirit of truly helping one another, with a sincere desire that we all make it to the other side.
But we won’t begin to start anything until we say, “Hey, look! There’s a mountain in our way.”
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