"I feel guilty living in a big house, driving a nice car and going to a great school. I feel guilty hanging out with friends in a cafe without the fear of a suicide bomber present. I feel guilty enjoying the multitude of blessings, which I did nothing to deserve, while people in Iraq, many of them much better than me, are in terrible anguish. ..."
- Farris Hassan
You can't blame a wet-behind-the-ears 16-year-old for thinking he could somehow help the people of Iraq just by showing up unannounced.
And you can understand why, with the drumbeat of self-loathing from the left, he might think he's a bad person for having a good life.
But young Farris needs to learn patience - and he needs to mature and get on his own two feet before he can pull others up.
Moreover, someone needs to disavow him of the notion that because someone else in the world has it bad, he has to, too.
If the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., student, who traveled to Iraq alone recently for a class project, wants to someday give everything up and work as a missionary or humanitarian, more power to him. We need more people like that.
Or, if he works hard and does well in school, he might someday pull down the kind of income that lets him help others big-time on a regular basis.
But even a well-meaning 16-year-old is poorly suited to be of much help to a war-ravaged, tyrant-shedding nation in which he doesn't even speak the native language.
And if he someday makes a life out of helping those less fortunate, misplaced guilt is a poor motivation and a shaky foundation.
Before Farris saves anybody, somebody needs to save Farris.
Son, you needn't feel guilty for growing up in a great country amid accoutrements of comfort and privilege. Your family has worked hard for what they and you have. And countless millions of Americans who went before poured their lives - and in many cases gave their lives - in building and maintaining this great nation.
Don't feel guilty, Farris. Feel privileged. Honored. Eternally grateful. And feel, as you apparently do, a moral imperative to give back.
That's a big part of what makes America great: its simple goodness. There isn't a more giving people on Earth. Most Americans, rather than feel bad about their blessings, feel good about them - and want to share them.
Use your blessings, Farris. Use them to put yourself in a position to help others. Use them to make yourself a better person. You'll find that you don't have to eschew all your family has worked or in some exotic quest to be a world-class humanitarian; you pass such people on the streets of Florida all the time. Such people have struck a balance between living well and giving well. It can work.
Don't leave your home too soon, Farris. And don't give up the nice car if it gets you where you want to be - like to a great school that can make a handsome young man even smarter about helping others.