If it is ever hard to accept and internalize this truth, here is a helpful mental exercise: When you look at some desperate refugee on television, waving an emaciated hand to keep the flies away from his eyes, do not compare him to yourself as you live now—in relative comfort and safety. Remember instead that you and he were once just alike, tiny fetuses nestled inside another person, utterly dependent on her protection and goodwill, completely incapable of making any efforts on your own behalf. At that point you were exactly the same, completely equal. Then think of all the things that must have happened in his life, and yours, to land you in such very different places—and how few of them depended on your decisions, how little you really did to end up so much better off than this refugee. That is the cold, unvarnished truth, and it isn’t a comfortable one. That is why we work so hard to hide it from ourselves.
Jason Jones is a producer in Hollywood. His films include Bella, Eyes to See, and Crescendo. Learn more about his human rights initiatives at www.iamwholelife.com.
John Zmirakis the author of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism. His columns are archived at The Bad Catholic’s Bingo Hall. This column is adapted from Jones’s and Zmirak’s upcoming book, The Race to Save Our Century (Crossroad, 2014).