This morning, after I sent Calvin off to school on the short bus, I finished my bran flakes, folded a bit of laundry, put some dirty dishes into the dishwasher and brushed my teeth. I chose the orange pair of flip-flops, ran a brush through my hair, tied it back, wound a beaded bracelet around my wrist then grabbed my keys and wallet.  As I was shutting the French doors on my way out I happened to glance down at the coffee table. On it was this morning’s copy of the New York Times. The cover photo gave me great pause.

The emaciated child in the photo is haunting. I read the first few lines to learn that the child is just one of over five hundred thousand children starving in Somalia because of insurgents blocking their escape from a famine. I imagined this suffering child as my own child, as Calvin. The thought nearly brought me to my knees in grief.

I read no further as my mind soberly turned to the image of our comfortable home, the attractive addition we just finished on our kitchen, the lush trees, shrubs and flowers surrounding our house, which at times, when they are thirsty, I drench in water. I think of the list of groceries that I make every few days knowing reliably each item will be crossed off as I stroll down air-conditioned aisles plucking enormous fruits and pristine waxed vegetables off of the shelves.

And Calvin, little Calvin, who cannot talk, cannot walk by himself, remains in diapers and must cope with the scourge of epilepsy and a battery of potent drugs, is safe and fed, warm, dry and clothed, enjoys medical care, nurses and teachers. He isn’t thirsty or in want of shelter. He isn’t at risk of suffering and dying from cholera, malaria, dysentery or starvation. He—we—are so goddamn lucky it isn’t funny. Are we so deserving? I don't think so.

Driving home from the grocer, with a hatch full of bags boasting a myriad of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses of the world, dog biscuits and pasteurized milk, I cried and cried tears of sorrow for the children and tears of shame for the times I've complained about hunger, complained about costs, complained about traffic, complained about losing my wallet, complained about breaking a glass, complained about the weather.

And entering the cool house to unload my spoils I glanced in the front hall mirror at my clean face. I studied my features—both inside and out—that I share with the whole of humanity. What makes me so special? That's just it—I'm not.

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

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