I am among the 10-15% of the world who live a life of high privilege. Homeless people in most of the so-called First World have far better lives than billions of people elsewhere. While some of those folks have shelters, at least, they otherwise lack even the minimal things that you, I or that homeless guy on the corner would consider necessary for an acceptable life: clean water, food, medical care, and a reasonable expectation of continued access to those things.
I live in a country where most people throw away perfectly edible food because they “don’t have room in the fridge,” or because the “best by” date has expired. In my country, people pay ridiculous amounts of money (and create millions of tons of waste) by buying ordinary water in plastic bottles because the perfectly good, government-inspected water out of their taps “doesn’t taste so good.” We have some of the best medical care in the world, albeit insanely expensive and ill-managed, available in some form to nearly everyone. We refuse to vaccinate our children against diseases that kill millions of kids in other parts of the world each year, based on the testimony of a discredited, defrocked doctor and the opinions of a few vocal (but decidedly non-medical) drum-beaters. We forget that the reason those diseases are rare in the US is because of those vaccines. And so on…
All in all, my friends, we live in the most privileged, richest society in human history, and most of us reap the benefits to an extent unimagined in most of the world. And all we had to do to get it was be born in the right place at the right time. Do I deserve this largess? I accept it happily, but what did I do to deserve it? All I did was be lucky — get born in the lap of luxury — one of a few hundred million out of 7 billion people.
Gee, I have a hard life!
I’m a recovering addict; that makes me even more privileged, because I’m learning about a way of living that escapes most “Earth People.” Taking nothing away from the misery of my active addiction and the discomfort of living with the results — the downside of being me, if you will — I have to admit that even at its worst I was better off than a huge majority of my fellow human beings. Recovery is about reality, and the reality is, I was luckier than most folks even before I got clean and sober. Every now and then, I need to stop and reflect on the upside of my circumstances.
Like maybe every time I start feeling sorry for myself?