I'm not sure that a blog, infrequently updated, ostensibly about standards based web development is the right forum for this post, so you'll just have to bear with me if you were hoping for a post regarding the latest installment of our self courses or somesuch.
Like everyone else who has seen the news, both John and myself have been deeply saddened and troubled by the disaster in Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Well, everyone except a cynical jerk I had to put up with at dinner last night who pointed out that this was nothing compared to some earthquake that happened in China in the 1920s in which 200 000 people died. If only my bodyguard had been there to set him straight on the nature of compassion. But I digress.
Back to Westciv. This has been a very good year for us: while it's not quite Joel-esque, we're pretty happy with is going to be a 75% increase in sales on the previous calender year. And of course, you can look back on that and give yourself a pat on the back for the short term, and long term achievement that it is. Short term in that we have grown a company from nothing and made it into a viable enterprise, purely through our own clever ideas and the hard work which is necessary to put them into action. Long term in that neither of us come from particularly privileged backgrounds, we paid our own way through university (albeit in a country, and at a time when tertiary education was effectively free) and generally bootstrapped ourselves. I've always loved that term, and where it as a bit of a mark of honour.
But for me, the idea of privilege, and having it, or not having it, must always be seen as so very relative. For the vast number of souls alive on the earth today my lifestyle, humble by the standards of those in my immediate neighborhood, is a very privileged one indeed. My life is so much less tenuous than that of almost all the humans alive in the world today. And it's only when your existence is no longer tenuous that you can dream, and then to work hard and make your dreams a reality. And if you think it's anything different to that, if you think it's got something to do with some sort of Protestant-work-ethic-and-spirit-of-capitalism gene, or whatever, then you really do need to get out there and see something of human experience outside your own plot.
Today we were privelged enough at westciv to be in a position to be able to give something to the Oxfam relief fund. While it felt like nothing in the face of this disaster, it was an amount we couldn't have been able to give even 12 months ago. I had thought that filling out the form and giving my credit card details and hitting the process now button would make me feel good. But it didn't. It just made me feel lucky.