Oh Captain! My Captain!
We’re born into this world without any indications of the conditions outside the womb. So much so, that my standard line for years has been “I was born with amnesia!” And although tongue-in-cheek, it’s fairly accurate. Knowledge of who your parents are and their socioeconomic place in the world, even at birth, is years away.
When we think of birthrights we can’t help but think how fortunate those born into royalty are. Monarchies reinforce birthrights and those fortunate individuals born into Royal Families, thanks to ambitious Paparazzi, go on to lead a well documented life of privilege.
In the United States there’s not a Monarchy like the one in Great Britain, but there have been families that have been elected President. Fathers, sons and grandsons with the surnames Bush, Adams, and Harrison have all occupied the highest position in our government and Presidents Madison and Taylor were second cousins. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd President) was a fifth cousin of Theodore Roosevelt (26th President) and genealogists have determined that FDR was distantly related to 11 U.S. Presidents, 5 by blood and 6 by marriage: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Ulysses Grant, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Zachary Taylor, Martin Van Buren, and George Washington.
There are definitely privileges and opportunities afforded those born into wealth and power. Nicer homes, expensive cars, resort vacations, and better educations are readily available to the offspring of the rich ‘n famous and families in positions of power.
Funny thing though, having a birthright and all the spoils that go with it aren’t always everything they’re cracked up to be…
Years ago I had one employee and I was talking to him about a successful business owner I knew who was third generation and had worked for his Dad since he was 10 years old. I went on to say how lucky he had been to be born into wealth, privilege and a successful business. I was shocked when my 18 year old helper responded with “I feel bad for him-” I asked “Why is that?” He went to say “Because he’ll never know what it’s like to sit in a job interview and sweat it out like the rest of us and then get all excited when he finds out he got the job.”
It made me think long and hard about birthrights. And after days of thinking I knew my helper had been right. The one thing the “rest of us” have is a totally unique journey, one that we captain, and that is without question one of life’s most valued privileges.
It used to be said that “no two snowflakes are alike”, but recently scientists have questioned that hypothesis. Perhaps the only truly unique characteristic about our existence is our journey. No two people walk the same line. We are all the products of our own unique journeys, journeys that take us to incredible places where we meet incredible people and have incredibly unique experiences.
I’ve known others who have experienced a much easier journey than my own, journeys without all the hard knocks that populated my line. But in the end I’ve come to realize I am a direct product of my unique journey and I am thankful for that and I wouldn’t trade it for anybody else’s-
And jubilant are we who when “our fearful trip is done; The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won…”
Embrace your journey- good, bad, or indifferent, it’s all yours. It’s who you are…