As a result of of a book I’m reading and a documentary I saw, I’ve been thinking about my position within society. How did I come to where I am now and how much of this ‘position’ of mine do I owe to the relative randomness of being born in a certain family and country? Interestingly enough it has lead me to the concept of Modern Day Aristocracy, a concept that I might just be a part of.
To clarify something: I am not a part of any kind of nobility and/or royalty, the ‘old-school’ aristocrats with history and family lineage on their side. However, the semi-metaphorical concept of a, what I call, Modern Day Aristocrat, does maybe apply to me. What do I mean when talking about Modern Day Aristocrats? Aristocrats are those within a privileged group of people who have the power to rule. This power is not necessarily endowed upon them through a system of meritocracy (a system where wealth and power are distributed on the basis of merit or added value of a person), but moreover inherited through family lineage.
Now I was born in The Netherlands, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and I have been lucky enough to inherit the excellent brains of my parents and with that also a good (all is relative) education. Without having any say in these, in my opinion, rather important preconditions of family, country and education, I’ve been set up to get all the opportunities to be one of those ‘lucky’ people. If you compare my situation to that of a girl my age born in a slum near, let’s say, Mumbai, then I’d say that, with my position in society mostly being based on inheritance, that might just account for me being this modern day version of an aristocrat.
And honestly, I’m not sure what to think of this. Should I feel uncomfortable being this lucky for no reason? Or should I just take it as it is and be happy about it? If I don’t agree, do I then have a responsibility to the world to change this relative randomness with which a person can either be blessed or condemned just by being born somewhere else? And to make the question even bigger, how much can we expect of a person to owe up to the incentives he or she (maybe unknowingly) stimulates, just by being ‘a part of the system’?
I recently wrote down: the only thing we can truly expect of a person is to take care of him/herself, and to be kind to others. Am I letting myself off the hook here?