This comment was by Alastair, on the post “Height“
Speaking as a 5’7″ guy, other guys being taller than me has never bothered me in the slightest. We are embodied beings and our height, build, posture, appearance, body language, voice, etc. all have a huge influence upon how people see us. For instance, people with short, slight frames, and higher voices are far less associated with strong leadership. This makes things tougher for guys with body shapes like mine and also for a very significant percentage of women. Robust leaders are more likely to be associated with deep ‘commanding’ voices, big builds, marked height, and strong features.
As human beings we respond to other people’s physical presence and people’s physical presences differ. The physical features that we value change from situation to situation. For instance, many of the political leaders that were elected in the past couldn’t be elected in the age of television. Other things go in and out of style. Could someone be elected to the presidency with a full beard today, for instance? It hasn’t happened for a while.
Rather than pining after some supposedly utopian order where everyone has the exact same advantages, why not recognize that with our physical bodies we have different forms of presence and learn to make the most of what we have, without envy, resentment, or an unmerited sense of entitlement? I don’t have the body to be a basketball or rugby player and I probably don’t have the body for high political office either. However, just as I can admire a gifted basketball player without resenting him, so I can admire someone who uses their physical presence in creative and empowered ways. I am far more annoyed by people who whine about the unfairness of the natural order than I am with those who use and enjoy what nature has given them in a thankful and gracious manner, serving and delighting the rest of us.
So, so what if a tall guy earns more than me, or finds it easier to get into high political office? His body gives him a natural advantage for the job, much as the extra inches of the basketball player’s height gives him an advantage in his sport. Sometimes peculiar abilities in other areas can close such gaps, but most of the time they won’t. The really damaging things in such situations are the senses of entitlement that such advantaged people can have and the senses of resentment and envy that those of us who are less advantaged can have.
It is worth remembering that, if we were all exactly equal, we would probably be left with a far more disturbing meritocracy, in which all of the responsibility for our failures could be laid squarely at our own door. It isn’t as if height is the only thing giving a person an advantage physically or otherwise.
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