Living in a country with monarchy very much rooted in society, the idea of being born with a silver spoon in ones mouth isn't too hard to grasp. Don't get me wrong, some people are born with wealth and some achieve it later and there is nothing wrong with being rich however it seems that with the trail of money, an elitist air surrounds the rich and powerful.
That a person inherits wealth from his late parents or relatives is not very shocking, but it seems that a person today can also inherit a title, a certain respect or position simply on a name basis, and not because he or she participated in that which made the name or legacy famous in the first place.
I was particularly reminded of this while visiting the Opera in an otherwise very socialist Sweden. We hadn't purchased "the best" of tickets available, so we were told, (kindly mind you), to take the stairs to the left and not the main staircase like most posh people did (including our foreign minister whom I spotted).
Well up on the third floor, we took to our seats which overlooked the whole Opera Hall and faced the stage, what more could one want? I took out my tiny but elegant opera glasses and started eyeing the place. Orchestra looked nice, always loved the harp, beautiful lamp, I wonder how they change those bulbs...balcony overlooking the stage... wait a minute...balcony overlooking the stage! Three exquisite fossils sat there in chairs covered in gold and red velvet. I took a closer look and figured they must be royalty. I asked my grandma sitting next to me (who knows a thing or two about royalty in Sweden) and she said she never saw them before in her 86 year long life.
Juliet once asked Romeo, "What is in a name?" Well Juliet, a whole damn lot I tell you. The balcony seats can never be accessed by common working class people such as myself, never mind the fact that the old man sitting on it slept through half the second act. No, one has to be born into the world of "balcony privilege", you don't really have to do much else. It is all in a name.
An Arabic proverb came to mind, which actually is part of a poem written by the fourth caliph, Ali bin Abi Talib (ra):
Inna'l fata man yaqoolo ha ana za
laysa'l fata man yaqoolo kaana abi
This basically means, (poorly translated I'm afraid),
"Verily the (real/true) man is the one who says; this is me,
Not the man who says; my father was (so and so)."
It is something to reflect upon, that the very man who wrote those words was related to the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and yet was not chosen to be the first caliph after the death of the Prophet (pbuh), on the same account; it is not your kinship that will determine who you are (thus not enabling you to inherit a position), but the person you have made yourself into.
Equally mind-boggling is the fact that even in the year 2006, across the world, people still inherit positions of power, as if it was something in the genes.
Naturally a poem by Ali bin Abi Talib would not work wonders on the rich and fabulous of Sweden, however there are countries and people out there who would gladly quote the Prophet (pbuh) or the caliphs (ra) in many other matters of life, yet, seem to have overlooked this "small" detail and brushed it under the carpet.
Ah well, I guess the rest of us deadly and genetically deficient beings will have to be satisfied with sitting on the third floor at the Opera and having to watch the father, then son and even holy ghost, rule a country.