In Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron,” America has reached complete and absolute equality. Equality is something that so many people fight for, but at the end of the day, remains something that you must earn yourself. The problem with people fighting for equality is that they expect for it to be given to them by the government, rather than something of value that you feed yourself by your actions. That is the exact equality, I think, that is being portrayed in Harrison Bergeron.
Just to clarify: I believe that the government should make things accessible to all people, but accessibility is only sometimes, not always, included in “equality”. For example, there is a pay gap between men and women. It’s been proven, though, that women tend to be less inclined to ask for a raise compared to men, or undercut their desired salary on an application. It’s important for people to ask for things, and it's important for people to say no to things. It’s important for people to value themselves and their time, and to stop being concerned with what everyone else is doing or getting that they aren’t getting themselves. It’s about taking responsibility for your own life, because when you turn to others to make decisions about your life, a possible outcome is the outline set up in Harrison Bergeron. The government took it upon themselves to ensure that every person was exactly equal to one another. This leads to a society that hindered human potential, for we don’t want anyone to feel “lesser.” I think it’s important to feel lesser, because it makes you better.
I used to attend Westminster Choir College (Yes, choir-like singing-college) before transferring to Brooklyn College. I was pursuing my dream of becoming a music teacher, one that I had fostered since the age of eight, when I was diagnosed with a Vocal Cyst after my first semester. It was an untreatable condition, and it required me to undergo two vocal surgeries, and 3 years of vocal therapy that I still undergo. My point with this is that I was given an unequal opportunity to pursue my dream, for some reason that I will never understand. No one felt more out of place than me, the singer attending Choir College who couldn't sing. I have only recently, after three years, started to be okay with what happened. I did the whole “life isn’t fair” and “Why me?” thing before quickly learning that it was getting me nowhere. I did less comparing, and more decision-making. I allowed that feeling of “lesser” to fuel me, because I am so much better than being defined by a handicap. After confronting the fact that I would have to undergo another surgery, I decided to transfer to Brooklyn College to pursue a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. The biggest reason being: I want to do everything in my power to ensure that singers have the education necessary to prevent them from enduring the same things that I did.
There are tons of people who find comfort in seeing others struggle at the peak of adversity, because they think “now I’m not alone in this! We’re all in this together!” No, we aren't, and we should not be. Harrison is the epitome of “You do you,” and I think that moment of “clarity” in society that was quickly followed by his death was his way of making his life purposeful despite his handicaps, similar to my plans to make mine purposeful do by healing singers with vocal issues.