I used to think that a successful life was available to anyone in this country who was willing to work hard, and if someone didn't succeed, it was his- or her own fault for making bad choices. But over the years I've seen how not everyone gets dealt as good a hand as I was, starting with one's "choices" of parents and upbringing. I've also seen how sometimes basically-good people can experience disappointments and even disasters that seemed hardly their fault, if at all. "Suck it up and accept your fate" is not an especially-satisfying response — particularly since evolution has programmed all of us higher-order animals to want what we see that others have (arguably, such programming is largely responsible for all human progress).
I've come to appreciate the wisdom of John Rawls's "veil of ignorance" in his book A Theory of Justice: We should try to set up our basic societal arrangements as though we didn't know what "ticket" we'd be handed in life's lottery. One simple example is the kids' technique for sharing a big cookie: You cut, but then I choose (which goes all the way back to the Book of Genesis, as it turns out). To quote the Wikipedia article: "For example, in the imaginary society, one might or might not be intelligent, rich, or born into a preferred class. Since one may occupy any position in the society once the veil is lifted, the device forces the parties to consider society from the perspective of all members, including the worst-off and best-off members." The same article notes that "if [slave-owners] were forced through the veil of ignorance to imagine that they themselves may be slaves, then suddenly slavery may no longer seem justifiable."