Thursday Open Thread – Feeling Lucky Edition

June 7, 2012

Happy Thursday!

Let’s talk about luck. Yesterday the president of our school’s parent council sent a letter home highlighting all the extras provided this year thanks to parent donations and fundraising. Among them:

  • An extra teacher
  • Playground monitors
  • Computers and other equipment
  • Art classes
  • Classical music education programs
  • Science curriculum

Last night, as I filled out registration forms for various camps DD will attend this summer (ice skating, soccer and Spanish language cooking camp, anyone?), it occurred to me for the hundredth time: she is so lucky. And so are we.

We’re so lucky to live in a neighborhood with access to a quality public school. So lucky that the chips fell in our favor, that we don’t have to worry about making our mortgage payments or having enough food in the fridge. It breaks my heart that so many children out there do not have access to a school like DD’s, that they don’t have parent councils with deep pockets and the wherewithal to raise a staggering amount of extra funds each year. Our kids are not better, they are not smarter or more deserving. They are just luckier.

When it comes down to it, I think that’s the major difference between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. Our side acknowledges luck. Their side insists there is some logical, deserving reason for good fortune and success.

A CEO earns an obscene salary? He EARNED it! A poor family depends on food stamps for subsistence? Well, they should just work HARDER. And how dare they have a cell phone/flatscreen TV/small amount of joy in their life? They should be wearing burlap sacks and staring at the wall! Ugh. Just thinking about this logic makes my stomach turn.

I’ve always had trouble articulating this worldview, so I was thrilled to read author Michael Lewis’ recent commencement speech to Princeton grads. The gist: his fame and fortune are a matter of luck, and the same goes for other successful people. A few highlights:

People really don’t like to hear success explained away as luck — especially successful people. As they age, and succeed, people feel their success was somehow inevitable. They don’t want to acknowledge the role played by accident in their lives. There is a reason for this: the world does not want to acknowledge it either . . .

 

Life’s outcomes, while not entirely random, have a huge amount of luck baked into them. Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with  luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your Gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.

 

I make this point because — along with this speech — it is something that will be easy for you to forget.

Word, Mr. Lewis. So. Much. Word.

So . . . do YOU feel lucky?  😀

What else is on your mind today? Chat away!