Some years ago, I was driving to work when I had an epiphany. I suddenly saw myself as I was – an American white male, living in the latter half of the twentieth century. Good health, somewhat affluent, in short, nearly the cream of the crop as far as life experience gets. And the question that bubbled up in my mind was… why?

Why was I not born as a poor African, sick and starved in some rain-forsaken dust bowl? Or an oppressed peasant deep in the backwoods of some underdeveloped Asian country? Or one of a myriad of other unpleasant and probably short-lived lives around the globe? How and why did I end up so high the ladder of desirable conditions, suspended between two eternities? I remember being really shaken by the cosmic roll of the dice that put my consciousness in such a ‘privileged’ place. The population of the world was probably close to four billion when I was born, and if you were to line up everyone alive at that time by how well off they were, I would have been well ahead of most; certainly two-thirds of humanity, if not five-sixth.

Twenty years later, I still don’t have an answer to this question. I still wonder why I’m me, and not already dead of malaria or malnutrition or infection, or barely clinging to my miserable life. I’m saying this not to brag about how wonderful I am, or how well-deserving I’ve been of my status as a White American Male (WAM), but more about how really shocked I was when it came to my realization that it could have so easily have been very different. Of course, the fact my own personal consciousness appeared at all is another amazing thing, considering I could have been born in the Stone Age, or the 13th century. But that’s just another small sub-facet of the same question: Why am I me, and not someone or someplace else? Why? It’s a question that still shakes me to the core; If you think about it hard enough, it should shake you as well.