A memorial in Hiroshima Japan to Sadako. A reminder of her wish to live after the terrible bombing of her city. Did she deserve what happened to her?
My brother and I were talking about some of the terrible events that have been occurring recently, and he brought up these thoughts:
“Why do I deserve to have clean water and food tonight?” “That could have happened anywhere.” “No one deserves to die.”
My own thoughts and questions have been haunting me recently:
“Why do I get to live and other people do not?” “Why do I have access to my basic needs but other people do not?” “Do I deserve the life I have?”
My brother and I grew up in a home where fairness was an extremely important value. It was a “you get what you deserve” kind of household.
If you work hard, you’ll get the things you want. Nothing comes easy. Everything has a price.
In some ways, these life lessons taught to us by our parents made sense until you realize a greater truth, that sometimes there’s nothing you can do that can affect the outcome of your life. There are too many external variables that we do not have control of that can alter the course of our lives.
I could argue that we’ve worked really hard to have our needs met (and maybe there’s some merit to that), but the truth is, I know there are so many other factors that exist which have shaped my current life.
Education has always been important to my parents because it was important to their parents. Because of that, my parents (along with their brothers and sisters) were the 1st generation to graduate from college (*correction: my Mom informed me that my grandfather, her dad, was the first to graduate from college – which was awesome to hear. It makes even more sense now). They passed on the value of education to us. They committed a lot of their time, energy, and resources so that my brothers and I could get the best educational opportunities possible. What would my life be like today if my family didn’t care about education?
Because they had jobs (and decent-enough paying jobs) they were able to provide for our basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. What would my life have been like if they weren’t able to work?
And of course, we were lucky to be born Americans with all the benefits that being a citizen of this country provides (many of which we take for granted). Things like protection; some basic rules and regulation regarding food and water safety; infrastructure like decent roads, park services, and social services like police, firemen, and schools. All these important factors/benefits simply because we were born in America. We didn’t get to choose to be Americans. What would my life have been life if I was born in another country?
Even if my life circumstance is based on a combination of my own actions and things out of my control, it still can’t explain the huge disparity that exists among the world’s 7.3 billion inhabitants. This bothers me greatly. Why do I deserve to have the time to even contemplate these thoughts while many are struggling to find work and provide for themselves and their families? What does this mean and what are we supposed to be doing with our lives? Is this right?
So I ask you friends, strangers, and fellow human beings. What do we all deserve? Why is there such a big difference between human lives? Is it fair?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.