So, a little while ago, something called The Economist Intelligence Unit (don’t ask me) revealed the “best” countries for a child to be born in next year. Number 1? Switzerland. Sweet Jaysus, not only do I have to move again, now I have to have a baby sometime in 2013. Canada was #9, so my fellow Canucks, you all better get yourselves knocked up ASAP.
The analysis was based on a quality of life index that includes factors like crime, job security and, of course, wealth. And there’s no denying it: the Swiss are rich. The cost of living is as high as the Alps, but so are the salaries. The tax structure here is kind to the super-rich, which probably explains why Shania Twain lives up the street from us (no, I haven’t seen her taking out the trash yet).
I don’t have much of a connection to cash these days. We (what’s his is mine and all that) get paid in Canadian dollars and my only complaint is that loonies and toonies are not made from silly putty to allow stretching them further. Then again, we have all we need, obviously much more than we need at the moment. But it is slightly ironic to be living in a place of vast wealth at the point in my life when I’ve chosen to slash my own net worth.
Anyway, all this talk of riches and babies gets me to thinking about the lottery of life. If you’re lucky enough to be born here, your chances of prosperity are high. If you’re born in Nigeria, dead last in this study, well, you can imagine how that might turn out. Of course some kids grow up poor and turn out just dandy. But you also don’t have to look far to find kids who, despite being born in a land of opportunity, never seem to get their piece of the pie.
As for rich kids, I’ve seen a few in my time, but by far I’ve spent more time in the company of youngsters who start out with more challenges than they know what to do with, the biggest being just too little of everything—food, clothes, heat, all the basic things that most of us take for granted everyday. I’m grateful to them for helping me appreciate every comfort I have.
The longer I’m away from those kids, the more I remember them, especially as the holidays (the busiest time of year in psychiatry) swing into high gear. Everyone of them almost broke my heart. I don’t talk about that aspect of my work very often, mainly out of respect for them, but also because their stories are too painful to tell and to hear.
Far be it for me to tell anybody what to do with any extra money they might have lying around, things are tough all over, I know. That being said, when you’re out shopping in the next few weeks, if you can spare an extra can of food, a toy, a book, a blanket, whatever, I can assure you there is some kid somewhere whose life will be made better for it. As will yours. Shrink’s honour.
And on that preachy note, I must leave you for a while. Moving duty calls and, sadly, those boxes aren’t going to pack themselves. There’s never a team of servants handy when you need them. I’ll be back when I’m all set up in the new headquarters, hopefully with a few sleeps under my belt and a face full of pillow marks.