When I was little, I remember watching evening news with my parents, and when they’d show the aftermath of awful explosions in some hot, brown place, or images of children with distended bellies in some other place, sometimes my dad would say, “Thank god we live in America.”
I think about that quite a lot, especially now that I’ve done some traveling. I’ve been to Nicaragua, for example, and to a tiny Caribbean island not often visited by cruise boats. Because while it’s true that those places treated us very well, and we loved them and their people, it’s also true that many of the people on this planet are very poor. They wear dirty old sandals. Their children go barefoot. They have nowhere to put all their trash, and so they dump it in a field and burn it, slowly. They do not have the ability to do anything with their stray dogs and so their stray dogs are everywhere. They eat what they can, when they can get it.
And I think about how my dad is right. And as a white man, alive and healthy in 2014 America, I have it better than, what, 99.99998 percent of all humans who have ever walked around? Do other folks who aren’t Americans feel this way? Did, say, Roman senators feel that way? Did Egyptian priests ever feel that way? What about Canadians? What about Mexicans? What about, shit, Nicaraguans? What other way is there to look at this?