It's a hard-knock life...for us         By: SArah DIomande

Inequality has become one of the defining challenges that have limited our mobility to a life, some would say, "worth living." When we look at the world around us, challenges come in plenty; yet for some, these challenges are a never-ending cycle. We question perhaps, "Was this the hand that I was dealt?" and therefore should I react or enact some type of change? The disappointing reality is that not many are heard or recognized when a call for change is instigated. The inequalities we face have ties to the capitalistic pursuits of mankind that take up a relentless mask that few are able to escape. Although the injustices we face today are ridden with the plagues of sexism, colorism, and hardships of mental illnesses; we as a society tend to turn a blind eye when these downfalls aren’t of importance to ourselves. Yet, something we all most notice is the impeccable irony that discrimination does not discriminate when it comes to its’ victims and we’re all at risk. The hierarchy of mankind is closely linked to capitalism. As humans become increasingly dispensable, we are at odds with our self worth and therefore replace our merit in life by how much money we gain. We have been taught that money can’t buy happiness, and that the pursuit of happiness should be fulfilled by one’s sense of inclusion and mission in life. But how does one find happiness in a world that neither accepts him for who he truly is nor deems him fit to advance in life due to what he’s worth. It seems that we live in a world where the cards have been dealt, stacked, and played without all players in mind; however, we come to the table anyway and we sit, observe, and play regardless, knowing that we are molded to fall. So who’s to blame for our misfortunes when in reality the majority who has been undermined to stay obedient has the power to reach new heights? Perhaps no one, perhaps everyone. 

To begin the exhibition, it seems fitting to commence with a piece depicting a story deemed to embody the start of mankind. Thoreau observed,"Our life is startingly moral. There is never an instant truce between virtue and vice" (Pg. 141). This idea rings true in the Bible's story of Adam and Eve. Yet once something desirable is introduced, the law of nature or God is questioned and at times ignored. We will explore this idea of how competition, monetary pursuits, and inequality have transformed a world that was initially made to appreciate thy neighbor.
The term, "Survival of the Fittest," seems to radiate off this impressive piece and brings up the topic of how money drives the human force. In the background we see a grand boat or ship. In terms of money, yachts, ships and boats a regarded very highly and known to cost a small fortune for many. This piece instills a metaphor of how men carry the weight and expectations of these trinkets heavily and would strip themselves bare to win these "prizes" of value. I was heavily drawn to the emblem of Mother Mary carrying her son Jesus on the boat; in my mind it served a a double metaphor that states how men at time believe it's in God's name that they should receive this type of wealth and fortune, therefore it must be done. We hold our greatest value in material objects and would stop at nothing to compete for what we believe is truly ours.
“A conception of law which identifies what is right with the notion of what is good for – for the individual, or the family, or the people, or the largest number – becomes inevitable once the absolute and transcendent measurements of religion or the law of nature have lost their authority. And this is by no means solved if the unit to which the “good for” applies is as large as mankind itself" (Arendt pg.40). Beautifully illustrated here through this politically charged cartoon is the result of what occurs when Arendt's standpoint is realized. The majority at times in completely neglected when those who hold the power deem what is fit for society. No matter how minuscule the oppressor may seem to the majority facing injustices, there seems to be a major time lapse before people take arms and revolt. In this piece we see tags of various events and people that were most likely involved in action of injustice. Therefore why do we as the majority wait, and wait until we can't accept anymore. Have we grown so immune to the workings of our government until it directly affects us? Whatever the case, we do what we know best to "end" our hardships.
America: Land of Opportunity, Land of the Free, Land of Equality. You name it, we got it. Right? This beautiful photograph is truly mesmerizing while achingly spilling the truth. A capitalistic world that promises you everything you've ever wanted doesn't exactly come with a guide. Some are still stuck at the beginning and work tirelessly to get ahead, yet see no advancement.
In a land that preaches equality and stability for all, why does it seem that only a fraction of our world is able to fully benefit from these promises. Although a complete different form of art compared to the previous photograph, this image may instill a feeling of injustice. With the "Southern Senator" propped comfortably in his luxurious office, smoking a hand rolled cigar, we wonder what might he have to worry about? His title hints that he has an interest in the well being of the people but on the contrary it looks like he isn's doing much of anything...and so the story goes.
"Power, . . . is always realized at the expense of innnumerable smaller powers. The extent of 'progress' is guaged by the greatness of the sacrifice that it requires . . . for a stronger kind of man" (Nietzsche pg.64). What makes a "stronger" kind of man. Is it one that is kind, humble, smart? I think that today, strong can mean a lot of things but p be strong enough to hold power, you don't need the qualities that men once deemed formidable. You need money or status, with one you are sure to gain the other but with neither you are sure to fall.
The God's Must be Crazy. If money were out of the picture, do you think these emotions would be as common?
"If virtue promises happiness, prosperity and peace, then progress in virtue is progress in each of these for to whatever point the perfection of anything brings us, progress is always an approach toward it," (Epictetus, Book IV). We men and women are on in the same, bounded by our need to advance and become someone or something we forget that we need each other to achieve greatness. Competition, hatred, and greed keep us further away from our goals of greatness and happiness. I find this piece to be breath-taking. It encapsulates men from all background, flaws and all, coming together in the search of on thing: peace. We grow attachments to things that mean nothing and bring nothing. It's the feeling of companionship and friendship that bring us closer to something greater.
"Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire. Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish? Nothing else. Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly" (Epictetus Book IV). It's time for us to break the chain that have held us captive. Everyone;s chain are different, but to realize that we deserve more, that we are more, is the key factor in becoming free to be your true self. This image shows the destitute situations which we live in as we yearn for more! The dove correlates to the previous image but shows our need allow ourselves to be free, and how at times we build gates and walls that deter this from happening. Yet freedom is all to close, we just need to be heard.
"Equality, in contrast to all that is involved in mere existence, is not given us, but is the result of human organization in so far as it is guided by the principle of justice. We are not born equal; we become equal as members of a group on the strength of our decision to guarantee ourselves mutually equal rights," (Arendt pg. 42-43)
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