I’ve been lucky all my life. My parents barely survived the Great Depression. I was lucky that they knew the value of education, and saw that I got a good one. I was lucky to have a better-than-average brain, and loved chemistry when it was a uniquely great time to be a chemist.
Yes, I did have a good work ethic, but even that character trait has an element of luck to it.
I am now in my 90s – another sign of luck – and I am distressed by the emphasis on individualism as a dominant characteristic for solving our country’s problems. This is the “I got mine” attitude, considering those less fortunate as deserving of their fate – as if the millions who lost their jobs at the end of the Bush presidency somehow deserve their plight.
We even see and hear criticism of the jobless for idleness, even though there clearly are far too few jobs available for the numbers looking. Many of the destitute got there as a result of one serious illness or accident. And of course, we should not blame a child for being born into a poor single-parent household.
The coming election may be the most important in my lifetime, as it pits the rich and successful – yes, the supremely lucky – against those far less fortunate. We all need to realize how big a role luck plays in who has succeeded, or not. Considering one far less fortunate, perhaps one should think: “There but for the grace of God go I.”
There may be no time in our country’s history that we are more in need of a community attitude that extends a hand to all those in need. And, by the way, wasn’t that at the heart of Jesus’ message?