We have all heard that phrase from a parent or other guiding figure in our childhood, that we are special. As a kid, I think most of us take this to heart and really believe that we are somehow different than everyone else and are approaching a singular destiny of some sort. As we get older we start to realize that we weren't the only ones hearing this phrase from our parents and the conspiracy is revealed. Not that it's a malevolent conspiracy or there isn't a positive benefit from these encouragements.
Having been to many different countries, most of which are economically far poorer than the US and other wealthy western nations, I have seen that being special all depends on your frame of reference. As a child my daily concerns were getting through school so I could come home and play, read a book, or watch tv. In some countries "hide and seek" is not a game, but a means of staying alive for one more day. If the situation is calm enough, they are given the privilege of scrapping and scraping for fresh water and a small morsel of food to get them through to the next day so they can do it again. For these children, special means you made it into adulthood with your physical body intact and your spirit still alive enough to carry on.
Anyone reading this is far more wealthy than most of the world. Having a computer and internet access is something fewer than 1% of the world's population enjoys. That is based on stats I pulled off the web, so it may be a percentage point or two wrong, but it still shows how unique the experience of surfing the web, reading email, or reading anything for that matter is. Not to mention running water, electricity, safe neighborhoods, access to healthcare, education, etc. For most of the world, these things are dreams and not something they would ever take for granted. Most of us reading this probably do.
Considering this, my cards are looking pretty good if I'm sitting at a table with people from places like Haiti, Chad, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Kosovo, or Iraq. Does this make me special? Have I taken the opportunities I could have in life and done something with them? I like to think I have tried to make the most of my situation and put in a good effort in most things I do. Still, have I really lived up to my potential? Have I taken all the wealth and power afforded to me in western society and really made something of it? It's a question I really can't answer right now. I have to wonder what the playing field would look like if everyone was on an equal footing.
So, are you special?