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BEING LUCKY IN AMERICA



I was sitting here at my computer desk with my chin resting on my hand and I began thinking about my past days in that Jacksonville, Florida orphanage. That's now almost 45 years ago. I really didn't have anything important to do tonight so I turned on my computer and decided I would try to search out some information about orphanages in other countries, the children who live in them and how they are treated.

Boy! I found out real fast that those poor kids in other countries sure have it rough. Gee! Many of those little children have to sleep on the floor and have no covers. They wear dirty, old ragged clothes and they hardly even have enough food to eat to help keep them alive.

Medical attention! Not even considered for orphans in those countries. Orphans might as well forget about that kind of thing all together. I mean if a child were to get sick while living in one of those orphanages, he or she would be as good as dead. The people running those orphanages just go out back in a field somewhere and start digging a hole to bury them in and they do not even have to call the authorities.

I have to admit that I started to feel somewhat ashamed of myself with respect to some of the things that I had written about what had happened to us kids when we lived in that orphanage in Florida. After all, we did have fairly good food and the clothes that we were given were always clean, though a bit ragged and worn, because they were hand-me-downs. But at least they were clothes and the bed that I slept in was always clean with covers, and I had a soft pillow. I can never remember ever being cold in the winter, because we always had heat.

That got me to me thinking about what a lucky little boy I might have been, compared to all those poor kids in those orphanages overseas. I even started thinking that I might be acting just a little immature and maybe just a little to harsh on the orphanage that I was raised in. After all, they were kind enough to give me all those nice things like food and clothing, a warm bed with covers and a soft pillow.

Do you know what the real problem is here? The real problem is that this is the United States of America, not some poor foreign country overseas where orphan children have always been treated like they were useless things. Children who probably do grow up feeling very thankful to their government, because they were "lucky" enough to have survived a horrible life in a terrible orphanage. Forever feeling grateful to their government, because they ended up the lucky one - the one who somehow got enough food to eat and managed to survive.

They are so thankful that they did not have to die like so many of the other children who lived in their orphanage - other children, who were not as lucky as they were - innocent little children who they had to witness dying, year after year.

No American orphan should ever have to compare his or her situation to that of another orphan-child, who may be living in some poor overseas country - if children living in America's orphanages are taught and made to feel or even allowed to think in such a manner. These kids will grow up one day and they will wake up to the realization that they were not lucky at all - that it was really everyone else who had all the luck and the food, and clothes.

What American orphans were really being made to think was that they should be very thankful for being allowed to be "second class" kids living in America - that it was so much better than having to be a "third class" kid living in some poor foreign country somewhere. Of course, all of this was being done so that orphans would not compare their own terrible plight to that of the "first class" kids living in America.

Do you know the ones I mean? The kids who lived around almost every corner in the nice big house with their moms and dads. The same ones who were always making fun of us orphans, and the other poor children, because we had so little. Those were the kids who really had it all. Those were the kids who should have been told and made to realize that they were the ones who should feel "very lucky" for getting to live in America.

As a young child, I never felt bad about having more food to eat than other children who might be living in a poor orphanage overseas or because I had a bed with a soft pillow and a cover to keep me warm. I was just an innocent little boy who had not done anything wrong to anybody. I certainly would have shared my food and bed with all of the other orphans had they lived here with me in my orphanage in America. I didn't have anything to do with all of that.

It really bothers me to hear some people say that orphans in America should all feel very lucky for what they did get, and that they should keep their mouths shut and not complain about all the beatings, loneliness and sexual abuse that they had to endure just because they were lucky enough to be clothed, fed and housed better than other orphans overseas.

American children, the ones who were not orphans, were never asked to feel lucky because they had a mother and a father who had lots of food or because they got to live in a big white house with a pretty fence around it. These privileged kids were never made, on a daily basis, to stop and think about what being "lucky" in America meant. This "being lucky" thing was a grown up ordeal and should have been left strictly to the adults. The rest of us were just children trying to be regular happy kids and have some fun. No child living in America, rich or poor, should have ever been placed under that kind of stress or made to think about such grown up things. Or worse, as in our case - living in an orphanage, having very little, yet made to feel guilty because someone else, somewhere else, had even less.

I have no idea why adults chose or singled out orphan kids to be the ones who had to feel lucky about what they had. Especially when orphans were the children who had the least of what American had to offer. No child living in this great country should ever have to worry about feeling "lucky." That is what "being lucky" is supposed to mean - an orphan who does not have to realize, think or worry about "not being lucky in America," until after they have already grown up and become happy.



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