I went out today looking for a chocolate lily. It's been blooming everywhere but as yet I haven't photographed it this year. We had a good rain overnight and the grass was glistening with water drops. It was a good day for a walk in the meadow.
A good day to try to process some thoughts banging around in my head.
It's obvious - I live in a wealthy country. But the extent of the wealth becomes obscene when measured against the average annual global income. $9000.00. That's it. Average out everyone's income around the world for a whole year and that's what you get. I'm no Milanovic, and there are all kinds of words and formulas like PPP's (the average income does increase to $11,000 in PPP's) and Gini's that are way beyond me, but I understand enough of it to have that bother me.
Well, to borrow from a well known 12 step program, "Make a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves" is right close to the top. A good place to start.
OK, I was born in a wealthy country. I was a sick kid; intussusception requiring surgery within weeks of my birth, adhesion's in my early twenties requiring further surgery, and cancer landing me back in surgery at age 27. All provided and cared for by the Canadian Health Care system. A geographical roll of the dice that landed in my favor.
Education? No problem. I even had the intellectual capacity to shirk my way through most of my physics and chemistry. Actually squandered the opportunity - just did enough to make it through.
Went on to fly helicopters for a while. Did OK. But a shop teacher told me a long time ago that I had gifted hands. It's easy for me to tackle things that are mechanical or equipment related. It comes naturally.
The genetic dice roll if you will.
All a gift.
According to the UC Atlas of Global Inequality someone born in Burundi wouldn't quite have the luck of the draw that I did. First off, with a mortality rate of children under five reaching close to 20%, even the healthy kids have a lousy shot at the deck. Not to mention a kid with stomach problems like I had. I wouldn't have stood a chance of surviving. And education? Let's just say with the current illiteracy rate close to 50%, I won't be expecting to see any popping up in my blog audience stats anytime soon.
It makes me wish there was no currency in the world.
No corporations or corruption.
It all feels pretty ugly.
Not much I can do about that poor chap in Burundi though. But the scope of inequality within our borders is just as disturbing. I'll go back to my native country for a few statistics. According to Hennessey's Index for February 2011, one child in ten lives in poverty. 1 in 4 if you're aboriginal. This is in Canada! The average compensation of the top 100 CEO's for the same year - $6.6 million. And trust me, the picture in the United States is no better.
I feel pretty helpless about that. What can I do?
I guess it starts with awareness.
Then follow with my feelings of entitlement. If it's all a gift, what can I cling to with a closed fist?
I found my chocolate lily. But I'm too late. The season to consider them appears to be over.
There's something strangely disturbing in that.