Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some Thoughts on Luck

I've been thinking a lot about luck over the past couple of weeks.

Highly successful people tend to say things like, "you make your own luck", which basically discounts the existence of luck entirely. Implying that your success, or lack of success, in life is due entirely to your actions. Even though I believe that we all have the ability to impact the direction of our lives, I totally reject the idea that luck has no role. In fact, I believe luck plays a rather large role.

Luck, good or bad, begins with the family you are born into. There is no way to deny that our access to education, opportunity, nutrition, nurturing, support and even love is largely dependent on the parents who created us and each of these elements are crucial to a child's development. Being born to educated, loving family with a comfortable income is lucky. Being born to a drug addicted prostitute is decidedly unlucky. We have no say in who our parents are and what genes they give us. Being born healthy and robust is lucky. Being born with a physical or mental disability is unlucky. Both situation are completely beyond our control and have a huge impact on an individuals life.

While people can overcome terribly unlucky disadvantages from their start (Barak Obama and Oprah come to mind), their ability to do so is also PARTLY attributable to luck. The ones who are able to overcome are born with the right kind of personality type, they are specially equipped with focus, drive and are internally motivated toward a specific direction. Not everyone is born with the ability to overcome an unlucky start and that is not always their fault. Sure some people are lazy, some are cons but I believe most people are doing the best they can with the hand they have been dealt.

I'm not at all suggesting that luck is the only determining factor in our lives but I am suggesting that it is a major player. I get so frustrated when people try to blame the poor and the sick for being sick and poor. Doing so makes it easy to disregard our collective responsibility to take care of the disadvantaged in our society, easier to not see the humanity we all share. This blame serves to make us all more vulnerable than we already are.

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