Living without consequences

The quantity of elevators in big city hotels is impressive to the point that they become an obstacle to navigate. Will I find several pods of elevators spread around the lobby or lobbies? Do the banks of elevators on each wall go to the same set of floors, since some won’t? Which elevators require a room key to open? Which elevators will let you on but take you only to some of the floors?

At a conference I attended in a hotel in downtown Chicago, the attendees used the east and west banks of elevator doors in the largest pool of elevators to get to their presentations. There was a bank of a half-dozen elevator doors to the north that no one seemed to use. After a day or so of attending, I witnessed a young couple, attached at the hip and wearing casual clothes, glide to the north doors. Without looking at anyone in the busy lobby, their elevator door opened and up they went to some set of floors kept from everyone else. My intuited sense, accurate or not, was of an extremely privileged young couple having access to pathways and options that others did not.

It's hard to not be aware of the massive differences in wealth distribution these days. I tend to mentally frame it as a problem of inequality in opportunity without merit. Without equal funding and opportunity in education, for example, the country can miss out on a child from an unexpected background who would become the next great political leader, or scientist, or artist. We limit ourselves when we structure social tiers of access in advance of any real understanding of individual capabilities and interests or potential.

I doubt the system really benefits the heirs of the extremely wealthy either. Living a life without real consequences due to good fortune could easily create an inability to evaluate real-world options clearly. When no are no stakes and no critical feedback, what personal development occurs? When boundaries do not exist, what need is there for resiliency, creativity, and imagination? So many of our political leaders today merely get by, incapable of forging any kind of lasting coalition or social improvement. An impotent ruling class of mediocre status. What can be the legacy of people who had every resource available to them and accomplished nothing of value?