In any fair universe, outcomes would be influenced by merit, not simply by blind chance.
Plainly, however, the universe we occupy — the only one we have — is anything but fair.
Two weeks ago today, on May 19, a Florida lottery player found herself richer by $590.5 million, winner of the largest Powerball jackpot on record.
One day later, on May 20, many of the 50-some-thousand residents of Moore, Okla., lost everything they owned in a monster tornado that leveled much of their town.
At least 24 of them lost their lives.
To a very great degree, pure chance governs our fortunes.
In the playing out of life’s mix of joys and heartbreaks, it is useful to remember that virtue often has very little to do with the story.
Looking out from the front window of the house as I write, I find much pleasure and satisfaction in the colors that greet the eye: my wife’s iris bed, a fine crowd of yellow and purple blossoms, her knockout roses just coming into scarlet bloom, the hardy azalea we planted nearly 40 years ago that has flourished through drought and freeze.
But cheering as that view is, I think immediately of those folk in a ruined place just 360 miles south and a bit west of here who have no house, no window to look out from, and if they did would see only fields of wreckage, and earth from which even the grass was scoured.
What is the difference between us? Not issues of character. Not any special worthiness for sure.
Undeserved luck is all — the accident of being planted in a place where,
at least, the whirling, roaring cloud did not come down to hurt neighbors and children and carry dreams away.
In the face of such a calamity, one is almost embarrassed to have been spared.
But there’s a way to ease that feeling. The call is out for help. The resources needed to begin healing that stricken community will be immense.
It’s reported that the outpouring of help already has been great. Gifts through respected organizations — the Salvation Army and the Red Cross — are the surest way to get assistance to where it’s needed.
Those of us spared by the violent weather are the lucky ones.
But luck isn’t free. Luck comes with a price.
The price is sharing.