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Old 11-20-2006, 02:56 AM   #61
Aelia Jusa
Iron Throne Cult
 
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Join Date: August 23, 2001
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Age: 37
Posts: 4,867
I am dismayed by the lack of understanding of the role of luck displayed at times in this thread. I am all for celebrating and rewarding hard work. There are certainly enough people around who expect to get something for nothing. I am also not a fan of the idea that you have to live life in a state of perpetual gratitude for things that go well for you that arise from luck. In my opinion, too much gratitude means a lack of progress. Like, if the person who invented the flushing toilet was all, 'well I suppose we should just be grateful we have a toilet at all!' instead of 'you know what, this nonflushing sewer pit is not really good enough' then it wouldn't have been invented. But admitting to and acknowledging the role of luck in our opportunities, and the fact that it is luck, and not being less deserving for the lack of opportunities for many others in the world, does not mean ignoring hard work or being disproportionately grateful or guilty.

We have so many things simply by virtue of being born in the countries we are in. To live in a country with free and high quality education is lucky. To have free health care is lucky. To have welfare available for those who need it is lucky. To be free from discrimination is lucky. To be in a country free from war or civil unrest is lucky. To have treated water and hygienic sewerage systems and affordable power is lucky. All these things provide opportunities for our hard work to make us rich and successful. Without hard work of course, we may still be poor and unfortunate. But without all these things that are available for us purely through luck that we were born in these countries rather than countries without these opportunities, then our hard work would not accrue anything like the wealth and success available for us. It is of course not lucky that these things came about in the first place. It was the hard work and compassion and insight of many people in the past who achieved these things for our countries that have them. But we who are enjoying them now had nothing to do with achieving them. Yet we were lucky enough to be born in these countries such that we can reap the benefits from them.

Similarly we are lucky to be born with certain talents and abilities. We may be gifted academically or musically or athletically. Whether you believe these are god-given gifts or the simple chance of genetics the result is the same. The luck of being born with those abilities means our hard work results in more than those who were not as lucky to have that degree of talent or ability. Just having the talent means little without hard work, but hard work without the lucky talent isn't much good either. Being born free from disabilities is lucky too, as is not getting illnesses later in life (that are not caused by lifestyle factors). It was suggested to my mother when she was pregnant with me that she could take thalydimide. Through luck, because it was nothing to do with me, she didn't and I avoided the disabilities of other unlucky thalydimide babies.

Again, the point is not that we should feel constant gratitude for the ways that we are lucky. Some people here have more or less of these things that we are lucky for but everyone here has some (or most) of them. Nor should we feel guilty for the opportunities we are lucky enough to have. But it is sometimes tempting to think that we have money or nice things simply because we worked hard for them, and therefore those in our country or other countries who don't have as much must be poorer because they didn't work as hard as us. But a hard day's work for someone in some African countries might be walking all day to get the only treated water in the area. I don't deserve the opportunities that I was born with any more than anyone else. So when I take advantage of the opportunities and work hard to achieve, then it is my responsibility to acknowledge those less fortunate - those who, but for the simple case of luck, I could be.
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Old 11-20-2006, 07:24 AM   #62
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Jack Burton
 

Join Date: May 15, 2001
Location: The Netherlands
Age: 34
Posts: 5,888
I don't think luck is the correct word to describe your 'better' situation. It's not that as if you were born 5 minutes later you would have become that kid in Africa whose mother is an AIDS-patient on her deathbed.
I don't want to drag religious ethics in this debate (although IMHO we're skimming its surface here) but I believe that, although you should be grateful for the life you live, you shouldn't feel guilty about your situation when compared to others. You CAN feel compassionate, but to feel guilty would be wrong. How is it your own, personal fault that you are 'rich' and others are poor?

I could go on about this for a lot longer, but I have better things to do. Like finishing my paper, and subsequently my education.
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Old 11-20-2006, 11:16 AM   #63
Leonis
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Join Date: March 6, 2001
Location: Somewhere on Earth - it changes often
Posts: 1,292
Quote:
Originally posted by Link:
I don't think luck is the correct word to describe your 'better' situation. It's not that as if you were born 5 minutes later you would have become that kid in Africa whose mother is an AIDS-patient on her deathbed.
I don't want to drag religious ethics in this debate (although IMHO we're skimming its surface here) but I believe that, although you should be grateful for the life you live, you shouldn't feel guilty about your situation when compared to others. You CAN feel compassionate, but to feel guilty would be wrong. How is it your own, personal fault that you are 'rich' and others are poor?

I could go on about this for a lot longer, but I have better things to do. Like finishing my paper, and subsequently my education.
Are you being educated by "The System"? You might be slightly ahead by dropping in here now and then...

I don't think Aelia was talking about a 'Sliding Doors' like, single moment of luck, rather an understanding that many people have had experiences and made decisions that led us to this point, but ultimately, the moment, place and situation of our birth is something we personally have no influence over.

Therefore, in that sense alone, we are all equal. From the richest billionare, to the poorest child, none of us had a say in where we'd start off in life. What we do after that is largely up to us, albeit that said situation can affect the possible outcomes of our ambition.

I think regardless of who's been debating this subject, everyone - Myself, Yorick, robertthebard, ZFR etc would all agree that it doesn't make us any more valuable than the next person. I'm pretty sure that' the crux of any issue with my original post, and fair enough.

Ultimately I would hope, as long as we understand this, then our consciences will decide how we act in respect to it. Whether it's helping out a kid with AIDS in Africa, the guy going through the rubbish you just threw out, or your own son or daughter; to help others is to help ourselves. Because we all know that none of us chose our own situation, we've just got to make the best of it.
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Old 11-20-2006, 04:53 PM   #64
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Jack Burton
 

Join Date: May 15, 2001
Location: The Netherlands
Age: 34
Posts: 5,888
Although I understand what you mean perfectly, I find it hard to express my disagreement concering this point.

I must add, however, that somehow the topic overview was all messed up. I couldn't view the first page properly, so decided to just single out Aelia's post. If, in doing so, I understood things completely, the forum software ( ) is to blame of course [img]tongue.gif[/img]
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