My favorite Kurt Vonnegut quote is from “Sirens of Titan.” It goes: “I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.”
Except for the word “victim.” I see myself as the beneficiary of a series of series of accidents. My grandparents were all born in “the old country,” which is what my family called the Czar’s empire of the 19th century, where Jews faced little opportunity and much oppression. My grandparents made it to America, which has led to me having a life so great it would make them happy they emigrated. I give them, and my first-generation-American parents, much more credit than I could ever give myself for my wonderful life. And I am grateful, to them and for that life, every day.
Nicholas Kristof travels the world for The New York Times, often to places where the odds of having a wonderful life are very poor. This is from his recent column, from South Sudan:
I came across a group of homeless women and girls in the South Sudan swamps, hiding from soldiers who would have killed or raped them. One teenager was wearing a castoff T-shirt that read “Obama Girl,” so I asked her if she knew who Barack Obama was.
She was confused; there are no functioning schools in the area, so she can’t read and didn’t know what her shirt said. But I explained. That didn’t help, for she had never heard of Obama. I asked her friends if they knew, and finally I found one woman who did. She said shyly that Obama is president of the United States.
Those girls deserve no more blame for their problems than I deserve credit for my great life. They are the victims of a different series of accidents that has left them in a much worse place than my series of accidents have placed me.
Apparently, a lot of Americans are not so grateful for the life that is possible here. They are angry. They are so angry that they want Donald Trump for president because, although he was born rich and has grown richer, he has found a way to connect with that anger and channel it to his political benefit and the benefit of his enormous ego.
I cannot truly understand the anger, although I keep trying. My gratitude for my great life gets in the way. I guess America has some problems; no, I’m sure it does. What country doesn’t? I think we should keep trying to make life better here, especially for those who have the biggest problems.
I’m going to take a break from blogging for a few days, and count my blessings.