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Writer's Block: Happy go lucky

Do you believe some people are more fortunate than others or do you think people create their own luck? In your opinion, are some people cursed?
I wouldn't say cursed. I've had a hard life with more bad luck than almost anyone I know -- sheer luck, factors that had nothing to do with anything I did, things I would have had to face no matter what I was like. Luck is real and some people are luckier than others.

I've also seen a lot of those luckier people tear their lives apart over things that I took in stride as pretty minor bumps in the road. I've been devastated by things that were nowhere near as drastic and far more common than the things that kept me down overall -- my disabilities for one big huge uncontrollable luck thing -- like first love, which happens to most human beings and kills an amazing number of otherwise lucky or healthy teenagers because the odds of first love turning out well are zero to nil but everyone believes it should.

I've seen people with none of my disadvantages turn around and destroy their lives on stupid things. I'm not even talking about addiction, the addiction patterns are so common that I treat those almost as a luck factor in themselves and a not too rare one at that. I'm talking about things like blowing their lives on video games where there is no physical addiction and no chemical sensitivity to them the way that real alcoholics have to alcohol.

I've seen people who thought they were doing well in life go through it like a hurricane destroying everyone around them in petty bullying and childish malice while still believing they were good people. But I don't see any correlation with that and luck in what resources they've started out with because I've seen the same viciousness in people who started with nothing. I've also met people who came out at the high end of the economic spectrum develop deep compassion and sensitivity and go through life making it a little easier on everyone around them at whatever level they are.

Luck is what it is. Suffering doesn't make anyone good. Ease and plenty don't automatically make anyone bad either. It's more that when things are tough you find out what that person really is like in how they take it, and tough is relative to what they started with. Because my life has been that hard some things that would have devastated other people went over my head as 'big deal' like job loss or eviction. I took it in stride because I was aware all along that jobs were not security and rented apartments weren't homes you own and can sink roots in for a lifetime.

I spent most of my life migrating toward better living conditions like any sensible organizm. To me that's a little more ethical an approach than just trying to take it from someone else who has those resources. But that's me, my outlook on life. History is full of people who just took what they wanted and if they did it on a big enough scale they became conquerors and Great Men and got lauded for ages.

I would rather be lauded for good novels. That's the great thing I chose to do in my life when I was little and felt a need to do something great, to be more than a bit player on history's stage. I read a brief bio of H. P. Lovecraft that said he had been a sickly child -- and that put it in reach, that was something I could do with a life that began with being a sickly child. I knew it was something in reach of the abilities and resources I had and have, so now I'm off doing it. There are far worse things to do with a life.

What gets ugly is when sheer luck turns into blaming other people for it, finding scapegoats and someone to pick on. It's usually the less lucky that wind up being that scapegoat and it just makes things worse for them without helping anyone, even the people who do it.

I've tracked a lot of this down to its social roots. Looked at where the ideas come from. Looked at how they get taught. Seen how the schools drum them into kids, the way the schools in my time openly encouraged bullying any kid that was different and of course every kid that had any physical disability or anything holding them back, anyone who didn't score high on every single thing that gets tested.

Then look at adult life and see those same schoolyard cruelties perpetuated at all levels in the workplace and the home and wonder why people get so surprised.

I consider being born in a country that didn't have adequate health care for my disabilities as part of my bad luck. It isn't the worst country in the world where I could have been born but it was one of the worst and its hypocrisy always galled me because people always went around touting it as the best and it never was. For me the whole immigrant dream always led back over to Europe where some of the people like me didn't have it as hard and had help right from the start.
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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance

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