This I believe: I believe in the power of chance. I believe in the responsibility that this power thrusts upon us.
I may be the luckiest person in the world. I’m certainly not the wealthiest or even always the happiest, but I am definitely the luckiest. I have a wonderful family, a job that I enjoy (most of the time, anyway) and no major financial or health concerns.
When I was born into the upper middle class in the United States, I was born into the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population. Not only was I practically guaranteed everything necessary for my physical survival, access to higher education and the potential for future financial stability was also almost a fait accompli.
I did nothing to earn this. It wasn’t something I deserved or didn’t deserve. It was simply chance. There was no decision made on high somewhere that said that I should be born into a life of relative privilege while hundred or millions of people lack even the most basic resources for survival.
Rather than feel guilty about my unearned good fortune, I believe that I am obligated—and empowered—to give something back. The higher education to which I did, in fact, have access has allowed me to have a job as a teacher of gifted and talented high school students that provides the financial stability that my socio-economic position encouraged me to hope for. My job also allows for other things in my life—time with my family, vacations, etc. Thanks to the generous scheduling of my job, I also have the time to try and understand the problems faced by those not as fortunate as I am. Even more importantly, it provides me with no excuse for not trying to do something about them. I cannot mask inaction with the excuse of too many hours in the office. My job allows me a flexible schedule, at least to an extent.
As much as I would like to use my position of relative privilege to solve all the problems in the world, I also realize that they cannot be solved overnight. They cannot be solved by me alone. They cannot even be solved by a whole group of us together. The only way they can be solved is for each of us to make a difference—no matter how small—in our own little worlds. Do what makes you happy: give blood, sponsor a child, spend a few hours working for a cause that moves you or in support of an issue you believe in.
If we could all do that, then the big problems would take care of themselves. This I believe.