yes, i'm shocked to realize i and my friends feel we deserve what we've got, that in some way we've earned it, either through hard work or perfect virtue. i don't know where this delusion comes from. perhaps from a lack of experience in the world, certainly from a lack of the ability to put ourselves in other people's shoes, especially people so strange as those living on the streets of calcutta, or wearing loincloths in the jungles of borneo.
of course, i may have this disease simply because where i've been born: california, usa. here all of us assume if we haven't lost our jobs, we've defeated the fear every american has of losing it. that prospect we live with, the downside of individualism and personal freedom. inhabiting a free-fall society, i don't usually admit how far i can fall. what if i'd hit those kids in the berkeley crosswalk, as it began snowing and my brakes didn't work? yes, i can take credit for quick thinking, stopping myself with a turn to the right into a light-pole. otherwise, i'd be rotting in prison for manslaughter and full of regret and sadness for all these years.
hah, did i earn my quick thinking? no. for whatever reason, i've been given it. jees, when i consider so many other fates, i wonder how i've survived, and there's only one reason: luck, luck, luck. how many times i've fallen asleep at the wheel, fallen down steps, not looking both ways when i should have! of course, i could say, 'i have a guardian angel. i'm doing good work in the world, and the divine saving the best for last.' hah, again. this merely means i see myself as 'a chosen one.' and i can't help but realize this in nonsense.
what's the consequence of believing we deserve affluence, education, new cars, 52 inch tv screens? i mean, all the terrors of the world come through the latter. we see people die everyday, we witness floods and poverty, hurricanes and loss. alas, it seems to do us no damn good, not as long as we're comfortable. tragedy, can open our eyes, but not necessarily. we lose, say, a loved one to drugs. do we have sympathy for the addicted, or do we blame them for corrupting our child? i dare say the second takes precedence. or again, we can say, 'god moves in mysterious ways.' it may help our pain, without helping anyone else's.
what's the cure for my mortifying, saintly state? to realize luck rules the world. does this mean i'll help the unlucky, maybe a little bit? i suppose it could. at the same time it could simply make me more afraid, grasping, self-centered, selfish, i don't know. is it possible to change an inner conviction? only experience, i suspect, can do it for the lucky few.
this prefaces a play i adapted and acted in, many years ago:
'the metamorphosis of franz kafka.'