Are We Just Lucky?


A famous travel blogger has a post about how all of his success, as the youngest American to visit every country in the world, has not come through luck, but through his own hard work.

I will give him partial credit, (that he has worked hard to achieve what he has) but I think he’s failed to see the obvious fact right before his eyes.

His situation has EVERYTHING to do with luck.

Consider the following email I got in my inbox this week:

Estate of late Mr. D
Dear Hiller,
I am Harrson Harhog Lawyer, I offer this to you in relation to
the death of the late Mr.D.Hiller, who was my client before his
death, leaving a huge sum of money (eight million five hundred
Thousand Dollars) in the bank. After unsuccessful attempts to
find his relatives, I decided to contact you since you have the same
Please try to give me your e-mail alternative
improve communication and for more information.
Thank you for your prompt response and please come back to me with your
full details.
Yours in legal services
Ms. Felicia Mathias

(Secretary Mr. Harrson Harhog).

These sorts of emails used to make me so angry.

I thought people who scammed others had to be horrible people.

I’ve never been to Togo, where this email originated, but I can tell you something:

It’s not an easy place to live.

And people who live there…didn’t choose to be born there.

It’s the grand lottery of existence. You and I, Mr Abbamonte, were born American.

It’s no coincidence that with our magical American passports, we can travel and see the world.

We did nothing to earn that particular privilege.

Still, the concept of privilege was something that somehow I missed even after living in Africa.

We were bone tired of the beggars and opportunists there who took advantage of us just because of the color of our skin.

“Why don’t they just get a job?” I thought.

wandering through lalibela

Not easy to blend in when in Lalibela, Ethiopia

And then, years later, we lived in Guatemala for a while, and I made a good friend.

Ever since having her last child, she’d had an infected uterus that caused her belly to swell. She didn’t have the $100 to go get the medication to fix it.

She worked hard running her own guest house. She had five children and she was only my age. She was honest. This had nothing to do with laziness.

She was Guatemalan. She didn’t have access to quality health care, or even the internet in order to research remedies on her own.

I am American. I can hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world to get the healthcare I need.

That is the definition of privilege. There’s white privilege, male privilege, religious privilege, familial privilege, educational privilege, heterosexual privilege. There’s all kinds of privilege, but until we recognize its existence, we will continue to go through life blindly assuming that what we have achieved is solely a result of our “hard work.” Of our superior moral character. And we’ll continue to sleep comfortably on our bed of privilege, oblivious to the fact that our good night’s sleep there wasn’t earned but given by some cosmic chance.

We create our own lives, I still believe in that.

But some of us have had a head start.

I no longer feel angry at the West Africans who send those emails. I don’t say that their dishonesty is justified. But it’s coming from a desperate situation that I can’t even imagine, and I can’t really know who I’d be if I were in their place.

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 371 awesome articles for us.

Previous post:

Next post: