Noblesse Oblige

From those to whom much has been given, much is expected.

I often look at my life and think there is no way I can ever do enough to deserve the life I live.  I live in one of the richest countries ever to exist.  I get to live a relatively well-off life even by the luxurious standards of the U.S.  I work in a job I like.  I come home to a single family house where my beautiful wife and 2 kids live.  Even with my MS, I am afforded access to good care and treatments. 

As I look at all of this, I am left thinking deserve can have little to do with it.  Regardless of whether one believes everything good in their life is earned; I think one still needs to look at why we have it.  Whether we make minimum wage or $100k a year, I think the key question is what we are going to do with it.  Money is only worth what it buys whether it’s a new luxury car or a Thanksgiving dinner for a family in need.  I feel the same way about my time.  It is only worth what I do with it. 

I was asked this week, why we would take in a kid and stick with her through 30+ days in the hospital.  “Aren’t you two tired?  How do you find time for each other?”  I had to return the questions because I have a hard time believing my answer is so different:

“If you were told you would be too tired to have relations with your spouse for a month, but you could save the life of a little girl who is depending on you, would you do it?  Could you chose to ignore a little blind girl, and would you enjoy the other activities as much knowing your indulgence was hurting a little girl?  In effect, what choice have we made that is so out of the ordinary?”

The answer he gave me surprised me. “You put yourself in a position to know the little girl, and you did so after already taking in 2 lovely but challenging kids.  Most of us don’t see the little girl so we don’t see the opportunity costs.”  I wish this wasn’t so true.  I believe we all, as people in the richest country ever, should have more awareness, especially of those in need in our own country.  How can we be so blind to the incredible wealth at our disposal?  As we see the occupy wall street talk about the 99%, I find myself agreeing with much of what they say while wondering if on a global scale many of those marching aren’t already in the 1% (exaggerated, but in the top 25%? Top 10%).  At some point I hope more of us recognize all there is for which we ought to be thankful.

I do think there is some irony of fate in the question of my coworker.  The Headmaster at my high school told me my senior year I would be a great monk or priest if I was ever inclined.  I laughed and said I was unsure of my faith, and more importantly, I liked sex.  Now I long for a time when my wife and I have enough time and energy, but never so much as to make me ignore the good accomplishments of our time and energy. 

Men plan.  Fates mock.  I only hope to someday have the wisdom and patience to find and enjoy the humor.  If I never do enough to “earn” the chances I’ve been given, I hope I do at least enough to…

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2 thoughts on “Noblesse Oblige”

  1. Thanks for the replies. It's these types of things which pop to mind at the end of difficult days. Seems odd to post before a trip to Disney, but then again maybe not. As any parent who has taken their child there will attest, a trip there is most certainly not about the parents. It's about the value put on making positive family memories.

  2. Good, honest questions to ask and consider. How we choose to spend our life, who we choose to send it with, and how money (or lack of) makes our choices more clearly focused … this was the perfect read for me today … end of the month, bills paid, balance barely enough to cover food, with nothing left beyond for extensive visiting/traveling to see those we love. I have faith that it won't

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