Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Ovarian Lottery

Seems that some enterprising reporters have managed to find Barack Obama's half brother in Kenya.

The Italian edition of Vanity Fair said that it had found George Hussein Onyango Obama living in a hut in a ramshackle town of Huruma on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Mr Obama, 26, the youngest of the presidential candidate's half-brothers, spoke for the first time about his life, which could not be more different than that of the Democratic contender.

"No-one knows who I am," he told the magazine, before claiming: "I live here on less than a dollar a month."


I'm sure that if the MSM really picks up on this, we'll see all kinds of stories insinuating that it is Barack's responsibility/fault that his half-brother lives in these kinds of conditions. I doubt, however, that many reporters and pundits would take the perspective of kyledeb from Citizen Orange - even though I think he got it just about right.

I think a huge part of what motivates me to develop myself as a global citizen is the following: at least one of every two children that is born into the world today lives in conditions that those reading this can't even imagine. Half the world lives on under $2 a day, and it's a world that people with access to a computer can't hope to relate to.

It would be a lot easier for me to live in this world if I believed half the world deserved that fate. It would be a lot easier for me to live in this world everyone has a chance at success. I know the truth, though. The truth is success and privilege has more to do with chance than ability. I've known to many good, hard-working people that have landed on the wrong side of chance to believe otherwise. Their only sins are the circumstances they were born into.

My thought is that Barack Obama is no more and no less responsible for the plight of his half brother than I am. As kyledeb points out, the lives of these two men clearly demonstrate what Warren Buffet calls The Ovarian Lottery.

The world is unfair, and I have been very lucky. I was born white - and male - in the world's richest country, to parents that took care of me, and inspired me. I could, for example, have been born a woman - in Bangladesh - with few possibilities of development. It's a big lottery.

From this vantage point, I have something in common with Barack Obama that is very fundamental to the paths that our lives have taken. I was born white and female in an upper middle class family where my success in life was never doubted. That's not to say that I haven't struggled in life or that I have not faced barriers. But ultimately, most of the doors I contemplated passing through were fairly easily opened. I don't feel guilty about that - guilt is a waste of energy. What I do feel is the need to remember the fact that I was a "winner" in the lottery and to embrace that with humility and gratitude.

If you keep your food in a refrigerator, your clothes in a closet
if you have a bed to sleep in and a roof over your head,
You are richer than 75% of the world's population.

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