The lottery you've already won

Posted: November 28, 2012

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

Hope springs eternal, no matter how slim the odds. You can see that in the long lines for Powerball tickets, despite the cold weather in most of the 42 states where the jackpot has climbed to hundreds of millions of dollars.

No one can be blamed for wanting to win such a windfall. With more than $400 million in the bank, you could have a lot of fun, buy a lot of things you need - and a lot of stuff you don't - and do an enormous amount of good for those who weren't so lucky, like those poster children with cleft palates, the dogs in animal shelters, impoverished students who ache to go to college, the homeless man who needs a place to hang his hat and tattered coat, and a hopeful inventor in need of a little capital to kick-start her promising idea.

Here's hoping that the odds are in favor of Powerball winners who care and want to share.

But even if we don't win the lottery, it's good to remember that in fact, we have all won life's lottery and have good reasons to count our blessings - even those of us who don't think of ourselves as lucky. Someone who has lost a limb in military service or an accident, say; those of us who have lost a home to a fire or flood; and those of us who can't afford the little luxuries that we would like - we are all still winners.

How so? When we feel sorry for ourselves, it helps to put things in perspective. It helps to remember that we live in the United States of America, where we have a great many luxuries unknown to most of the world. We don't have to stifle our opinions or get a government-issued pass to travel to another state: We enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of movement. We are entitled to an education. We do not have to starve or freeze: Someone will provide us with food, shelter, and water. If we are down on our luck or out on the street, there are basic support services available from the government and from charities.

And even beyond all of that, we have won life's lottery because we have been born human. Whether you believe we lucked out because of karma or divine intervention or by an accident of birth, just imagine for one moment what life would be like if you had been born a mouse in a laboratory, a dog kept outside on a chain all winter, a bear in a barren enclosure in a roadside zoo, or a bird confined to a cage.

This is an appeal to all of us who have won life's lottery by being born into the luckiest 0.0001 percent of life-forms: Remember to care and to share, especially during this season of goodwill - Powerball or no Powerball.

Ingrid E. Newkirk is the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the author of "The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights." For more information, see This was distributed by McClatchy-Tribune.

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