Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Whenever the subject of luck comes up with the right leaning people I know, I find I must always defend the luck of the gene pool when discussing the difference between affluence and privilege we are born into, and that which we work to achieve. J and I sit on our dock, looking out onto the moving water while we take in the beautiful sunset; and yes there are swans that swim by. If you think we’re not grateful, guess again. We have been living here 8 years now and still elbow each other every night…”this is our house” we say, as we acknowledge how lucky we are for all our blessings. Then we send off prayers to all those who aren’t as fortunate as we are, and whenever we can, give money or our time.

Right leaners however, don’t think luck has anything to do with it. They think they sit where they sit only because they worked their asses off to get where they are instead of lazing around and looking for government handouts.

Rather than argue, I visualize them as little girls or boys born in the Sudan, or say Afghanistan, maybe Darfur, (I don’t think I need to complete the list), anywhere but where they landed and nod my head at them. I don’t remark out loud anymore about this, although i have in the past, because it never goes over very well.

My argument begins with the notion that our luck begins at the beginning. It begins with where we are born, followed by to whom, and then all the rest of the seemingly important things that make such a difference on how far you get, no matter where you are dropped. Things like beauty as opposed to plain, or worse yet, ugly. Things like intellectual capacity, or at least the capacity to ask the questions necessary to continue growing, never mind do math, as opposed to those not so smart; or whether one is born healthy or came into this world with Down ’s syndrome, or spina bifida, or leukemia or just plain hungry. I understand there are some who believe that we choose where and to whom we are born, and while I do believe we come back, I do not believe we choose any of it. How’s that for specific and selective beliefs. But they’re mine and this is my blog.

I also understand that no matter how bad things are in one’s life, it IS possible to rise above it- at least in this country, because truth is if you were born in Somalia during a drought, you aren’t very likely to make it past two. However, the percentage of people who are born with that much courage, guts, testicular or ovarian fortitude, to crawl their way out of the ghetto after being born to a HIV positive, heroin addicted mother (describe any of hundreds of scenarios here), are few and far between. Yes, it can be done. It’s not an impossibility, but I don’t know how many of us have the fortitude to rise above such adversities. I don't think many of us could if we were honest with ourselves.

Meanwhile, it so often seems to me that those of us who already have so much are the very ones always wanting for more. I catch myself so many times saying..I wish this or that….I wish I had this or that…and I end up feeling so ridiculous…because it is so easy to fall into a pattern of wanting, and I know I am in that one percentile of people globally who have so much. We forget that. We forget how few people in the world get to have what we have.

I have always been bothered by the inequities of the world. The have’s and the have not’s. And it’s not like I’m saying we should feel guilty about what we have, I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I get as tired of hearing ….”well, you know you could have cancer, or you could be a young girl in Afghanistan who just had acid thrown in her face “, because it invalidates anything we may be experiencing in our lives that causes us pain, or worry, or anger. I know, I know…so many have it so much worse. But our lives are also important and it’s ok to bitch and complain as long as you keep it in perspective. I’m just saying, that at a minimum we should certainly be thankful and we should each, individually do what we can to make this world we live in a good place to live for all of us.

So I came up with this idea. What if global society required that we switch places with someone else in the world every so often? It would be like a flip switch that would be randomly pulled. You wouldn’t know when it was about to happen or where you would be transported. You would always be transported into the current year and at the age you are presently, but you might go from rich to poor, from black to white; Asian to African; hungry or satiated, brilliant or stupid, male or female, Christian, Muslim, or Jew. You’d span countries you never heard of, let alone find on a map. It would begin from the time you were an infant and could happen as frequently as once a year to as long as a decade. The only other societal rule would be that at some point, (could be at 25, 48 or 75, you would never know) you would be sucked back to your home town in the country of your birth where you would be required to spend at least part of each day doing something to make the world a better place to live.

I think that would be fair and it would give us all a better understanding of who and what we are all about – I mean all of us – the collective human race.


  1. I was just talking to a republican who was saying that he thinks it would be sooo much better if he wasn't working...he'd get medicare, free food, free health care, free education, free retirement...on and on. So, let's have him switch places with a laid-off auto worker who had four kids and doesn't have a job or a job prospect and is scared of losing his house! Let's get some perspective on what it meas to be lucky!

  2. Those right leaners are exactly as you suggest - right wing because they are almost allergic to the idea of a more equal wider human society, it frightens them. perhaps they can see the scenario you suggest playing out at the expense of their unappreciated wealth.

    becasue lets face it - the world over the happiest people are not the monetarily richest.
    Sure broke and depressed is worse than rich and depressed but it aint the poor that commit suicide, film a street in the poorest part of Mumbai and then a similalrly populous street in London, New York, Paris, Berlin - and the Mumbai street has 30% more smiles...(its been done)

    I always agreed with one snobby Englishman who said "we have to remember, being born British is having been given 3 aces in your first ten poker hands". I feel very lucky, and rich in the best way, happiness and love...
    - which may be why I'm not an insecure bigoted right wing knobhead...