I believe it’s wired into most of us not to be boastful about who or what we are. We take seriously the admonishments against boastfulness passed down to us through the great religious and philosophical texts. As a country, South Africa literally lives the idiom “pride comes before the fall” as our reason for pride at the dawn of democracy in 1994 slowly, yet inexorably, disintegrates around us.
Nobody really likes a boastful spirit. We may celebrate success – especially in the sporting world or the creative industries – but, mostly, we disdain the arrogance of the self-proclaimed super-achievers in whatever sphere of life we might encounter them. We envy those who are the best, the biggest and the brightest among us, but we also relish their respective falls from grace. Ironically, our experience is that the ones who boast the most of their achievements in life and exhort others to pull themselves up, have generally not attained their exceptional status from their own hard-fought-for efforts. Instead, they are the beneficiaries of genetic, social and family bequests made generations ago.
And so, to have one’s own exceptionalism pointed out to one – to be told that one is part of a ONE PERCENT – is quite disconcerting, unnerving really. But here I am. Cardiologist Michelle Kittleson of California has written a beautiful piece on the few of us who have been “snatched from the jaws of death, transformed by the miracle of a donor heart”. I’m in this club through no effort of my own, but as a result of another’s life-giving sacrifice, the unrelenting hard work of skilled professionals and the support of countless others. “[T]he very definition of a heart transplant is being that 1%.”
I’m happy to be here, alive through grace, “unmerited favour”, happy to be in this 1% Club.