The lottery of location
This post is inspired by a comment I left on a post by BroadsideBlog on gratitude.
I live in Australia. I was born here, and while I’m not wealthy, I do live a rich, fulfilling life. Or rather, I have the opportunity to do so. Education is compulsory and more or less free, work is always available (even if it is not work I would want to do) and good, quality food is plentiful, and reasonably priced. We have one of the best health care systems in the world and we can speak our minds without fear of censorship, or jail. We seem to have escaped the brunt of the GFC, and while we aren’t perfect as a country and still have work to do, we are lucky in so many respects.
But it was a complete accident that I was born here. I could quite as easily have been born in North Korea, Sudan or Burma or any other country where there is political unrest, famine, genocide, war or harsh living conditions. I might have been born in a country where being a girl is a death sentence. Where being a girl means no education, and marriage at 13 to an old man. Where having a partner of a different race or religion is frowned upon or outlawed. Where there is no such thing as clean drinking water. Where death from a preventable disease, like measles, is common. Where speaking out about injustice or corruption would mean jail, or torture or death, or all three. Where mothers are forced to leave their starving children by the side of the road because they don’t have the strength to carry them. Where life has no value. Is not valued.
I am lucky that I was born in this country.
And it is precisely for this reason that I give to Kiva. For $25 (the price of a few cups of coffee, or a meal out when you think about it) I, and other Kiva lenders, can change someone’s luck. And their life. I can help fund a grocery store in Ecuador, or an internet cafe in Thailand, or a motorbike for getting goods to market in Vietnam. I can help someone in Peru buy pigs to sell, or help school teachers in Sierra Leone with education resources.
Being able to change someone else’s luck via organisations like Kiva is so easy, I don’t know why everyone isn’t doing it. But, then again, I believe that it is my responsibility to do so. I feel that I am obligated, because of the lottery of my location, because of my privilege.
Just like my birthplace, I have no choice. I must help.