Do I Deserve the Things I Have?

  1. lived in a time and a place where immense productivity, international trade, and technological advancements allowed me to do other things than eke out a near-subsistence living in southern Scandinavia — the plight of my ancestors for fourteen generations (probably more, but that’s how far we can trace it).
  2. Actually and deliberately, put myself in a position where I learned, i.e. go to countries where Spanish is spoken. And, in extension, take classes and repeat vocabulary and practice grammar.
  • Neither of my parents went to university, yet I hold a degree from one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. (The wokeness is making it somewhat less prestigious as of late…)
  • While my strict but supportive parents helped me with school work, after, say, fifth grade, they couldn’t help me with English homework anymore. Past seventh or eighth grade, they couldn’t assist much with the quality of coursework even in Swedish. While my dad — who worked in industrial production — definitely assisted with physics homework and my mum — who speaks German and works for a German company — occasionally helped with German grammar, I have very little benefit from any of those fields today (or ever). Did those minor advantages eventually spiral into larger and larger advantages? Maybe — but plenty of people had it that well (and much better) without pursuing the path I did or doing what I do.
  • I score in the 95th percentile in GRE verbal (92nd in analytical writing) — in what’s not my mother tongue — not because I went on some advanced writing prep resort or my parents forced me to read, write, and practice vocabulary all day, but because I routinely look up, add, and practice thousands of unfamiliar words. Because I, as my wonderful canvas painting informs me, “darling, you need to read better books” — before cheekily adding, “your brain is screaming for attention.” I do follow the advise my former self has set up for me.
  • As for family structure, as that’s supposed to matter, they divorced when I was young — as far as I could tell, peacefully, amicably, and like responsible grown-ups. Two of my grandparents died before I was a teenager, a third just after my twenty-first birthday. It’s not clear to me that this family background is what Sandel and others would call “privileged” or “established” or entail on me an “unfair advantage.”



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Joakim Book

Joakim Book

Eat steak. Practice yoga. Go outside. Get ₿itcoin.