Let’s say you’re at a hotel and the breakfast cook refuses to make anything except scrambled eggs. Try though you might, he won’t make any other dish. Now, he’s very good at making scrambled eggs. His eggs are considered to be the best in the region. But you want waffles? He’ll make you scrambled eggs in the shape of a waffle. You want bacon? He’ll add paprika to your scrambled eggs and color them like bacon, but it’s still scrambled eggs.
If you happen to like scrambled eggs, then you probably think this hotel is the bee’s knees. You’ll stay here every time. You’ll probably even tell your friends about it, support it, and encourage the hotel to promote the chef.
But what if you don’t want scrambled eggs? What if you don’t like scrambled eggs, or you’re allergic to them? Your choices are either to eat the eggs, or go to a different hotel breakfast, because the breakfast system at your hotel is rigged a certain way, to produce a certain, preordained outcome. You can leave all the 1-star reviews on Yelp that you want. You can complain to the management. You can refuse to eat the eggs and go on a hunger strike, but the chef is making scrambled eggs whether you like it or not.
It isn’t until hotel guests become tired of eggs and stop staying at the hotel that the folks running the hotel will ever make a decision to change. Until then, your choices are scrambled eggs or check out.
This is a metaphor for what any minority – non-heterosexual, non-Christian, non-Caucasian, non-patriotic, non-politically affiliated, non-mainstream point of view – person faces in a much bigger, more consequential way today in the United States and many other countries. The operating system that runs day to day life is designed by the people in power to create outcomes that benefit the people in power. That’s not unique to the United States in the 21st century. That’s human nature and the story of our civilizations for the last 50,000 years. In centuries past, that was divine right, or flat out might makes right. In primitive times, that was whoever was biggest, strongest, etc.
Most important, the system is designed to protect itself. Asking the system to contradict itself, for example by indicting police officers who break the law, is like asking the chef who only makes scrambled eggs to stop making scrambled eggs. Until the people who run the system are dramatically affected by a malfunction in it, the system will not change. There’s no reason for it to change.
So what do you do? If you’re staying at the hotel, you eat the scrambled eggs, or you check out and stay at a different hotel. If you’re in the United States of America and the system is actively working against you, then leaving and going somewhere else is probably not a bad choice. Having been to many other countries around the world, there are lots of other countries that offer the same basic quality of life, and even a very similar spoken language. The Internet is available over large swaths of the planet, and work has changed so much that you can do many jobs from anywhere on the planet.
Live with it, or check out. Only once enough people check out of the hotel and check back in will the hotel management make changes.
Comments are intentionally closed on this post.
Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:
Get your copy of Marketing Blue Belt!