Prompt 135: Typical New Yorker
135. How would you describe a typical New Yorker? Would you think the description was accurate if you were a New Yorker? Why or why not?
Sharks are interesting animals. One of the things about them that I find the most interesting is how they breathe. They have gills, much like fish, but they are unable to pump or otherwise force water through them in order to extract oxygen. In other words, they need to keep moving in order to keep breathing.
I think of the typical New Yorker as a shark, at least in this respect. Rich or poor, every New Yorker has a hustle and grind of some kind going. They persist in that obscenely expensive region of the country in some cases because they won't quit trying to make a buck. Either that, or on the other hand they are stuck there, living hand-to-mouth, a hardscrabble existence.
Anywhere there's a drastic difference between the richest and the poorest, you'll find this hustle and grind. The original ethos of America was that there was a meritocracy: people earned what they deserved because they worked hard; "if you earned more, it's because you worked harder." Fortunately, this outmoded belief - this shibboleth - has been proven false, or at best inconsistent, time and time again. Unfortunately, there are enough who still believe it so that the idea of "the more money you have, the better the person you are" is still stuck in the brain of the typical US citizen. Punching down is the norm, and to some extent is approved. "I gotta get mine," is a suitable motto for large portions of the US population: again, rich or poor.
Sharks aren't usually seen as admirable animals. Rather, they're seen as forces of nature: a living machine made to kill, a primordial apex predator with its roots in the prehistoric age. In much the same way, the libertarian quest for "more, more, more for me at any cost" has overshadowed most socially-beneficent, altruistic urges. It seems more realistic and approachable to secure one's own station in life by punching down, than to uplift a community so that none of the members struggle or suffer. Critical thinking would reveal the utility of "responsible predation" and the role sharks have in the ocean environment, much the same way that socialist views and practices would be revealed as foundational to a strong, resilient community.
Anyhow, that's what I think of when I ruminate on what a "typical New Yorker" might be. Is it accurate? Well, honestly I doubt I could care less. I dislike that town and I'm certain I don't have anything to offer it, anyway.
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