In a recent conversation, a friend said that we had won the lottery by being born in the United States. How right she is! I won the lottery of life by being born a metropolitan hospital in the United States of America instead of in a back alley or on a dirt floor in a third world country. When I was born, my life expectancy was 73.2 years. As a child, I never knew what it was to go without a meal. I wore white gloves, was taught to play the piano, and taught to speak French. When I was sick, I had access to excellent medical care. The water that came from the faucet in my home was sanitary, and living in temperature controlled homes was status quo. I was given a formal education in an excellent school system, taught to swim, to shoot fire arms, to fish, and to ride a horse. I was born and raised in a typical middle-class home in a typical middle-class community.
In 1913, just over 100 years ago, life was not so good for the middle class in the United States. Life expectancy for women was 56.8 years. Women were not allowed to vote and were not allowed to attend Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, or Dartmouth. Twenty percent of the children living in cities were undernourished. Only one-third of elementary school-aged children were enrolled in school, mostly because they were working horrific hours for very low wages in inherently dangerous and unhealthy factories and mines. Upton Sinclair had published The Jungle which exposed the horrific conditions in the American meat packing industry. Water contamination due to sewage disposal deficiencies caused general health problems and occasional epidemics in cities. A husband’s violence against his wife was usually not adequate grounds for divorce, as in many states “the law gives the husband power to use such a degree of force necessary to make the wife behave and know her place”. There were no zippers, no stainless steel, no assembly lines, no antibiotics, no crossword puzzles, and no vaccines for measles, diphtheria, rubella, or tetanus. The first home refrigerator had just been invented, films were still silent, and radio broadcasting would begin in a few years.
Yes, I won the lottery. I was born at the most privileged time in human history. I saw the advent of color television, the microwave oven, cell phones, and the internet. I can get in my car, and in a few minutes be at a grocery store miles away which provides a massive selection of food from all over the world at historically very affordable prices. I am privileged to live in an age where every two days, humanity creates more information than from the dawn of time up until 2003. Furthermore, anyone can access the vast majority of this data on demand, 24 hours a day, via the internet. I expect to live long enough to see the advent of stem cell organ regeneration on demand, which will enable those who can afford it to have an unprecedented quality of life in unprecedented life spans. I expect to live long enough to see the cyborg implants become the norm, and for humanity to unlock the mystery of consciousness by mastering quantum vibration technology.
Yes, I won the lottery. I was born in the most privileged country at the most privileged time in human history. I was not born into indentured servitude, as are so many children in India. I was not subjected to the horrors of genital mutilation at the hands of women I knew and trusted, as is the custom in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the Middle East. Instead of being forced to work in a sweat shop in Bangladesh, Thailand, or China, or being sold into an arranged marriage before I was 12 in the Middle East or Nepal, I received a world-class education never having to worry about acid being thrown in my face as occurs in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I was able to bear three children without being forced to abort those after my first, as occurs in China. Unlike the female children and women in today’s war zones in Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and Sudan, I was not subjected to rape as an act of war. I have never witnessed first-hand the horrors of war, had my children kidnapped for slave labor, or gone hungry because there was nothing to eat.
Today, I am free to come and go as I please without the permission of a father or brother, as is required in the Middle East. When I go out, I do not have to worry about being beaten for not wearing a burqa, hijab, niqab, or burka in public, as is required throughout much of the Middle East and South Asian Muslim countries. I can also drive a car without being arrested, which is something a woman cannot do in Saudi Arabia. If I should ride a bus, I do not have to move to the back because I am female as would be demanded by the Haredi sect of Orthodox Judaism in Israel. When I am out, I do not have to worry about a police officer extorting what money I have under the threat of being arrested, as is so common in Nigeria. Most of all, I don’t have to worry about being thrown in a concentration camp for criticizing my government, as I would if I was born in North Korea.
Yes, I won the lottery by being born in the most privileged country at the most privileged time to date in human history. I wake up in a climate controlled room, not on a dirt floor. I wake up in a bed with clean sheets that were laundered in an automatic washer, not pounded on rocks in a filthy river. I take a leisurely shower with sanitary water that I did not have to haul or heat. I have a breakfast of fresh ground coffee, organic milk, free-range eggs, and fresh fruit that costs a small fraction of my daily income. I instantly connect to the entire world with high-speed internet service, something that less than 40 percent of the world’s population can do. My American middle-class existence is one of luxurious splendor that more than 80 percent of the world cannot fathom. For this, my sheer luck of being born in the United States at this time in human history, I am so grateful.