If you watch the news long enough, you will be convinced that we are living in the darkest of times.
For me, it has always helped to keep perspective. It has always been important for me to recognize my place in everything and to maintain the reality of how lucky I truly am.
A good example of this is income inequality. On one side, I am infuriated by the vast amounts of wealth that is accumulated by such a select few men and women. I see people suffering and I see people with more then they will ever need. It makes me angry.
But on the other side, I compare my (our) problems with the problems around the world. It hits me suddenly and strong. I don’t have anything to complain about. I don’t think you do either.
I am literally in the top 1% of the world in terms of my standard of living. If you have an internet connection and a smart phone, then so are you.
If you make more than $36,000 a year, you make more than 99% of the people in the world. To create even more context around that statistic, you have a higher standard of living than most of entire earth’s population throughout its entire history.
You have internet, you have water that comes out your sink that you can drink. You have a toilet that flushes. You don’t even have to grow your own food, there are huge buildings that someone completely packed with food for the sole purpose of saving you the trouble of growing it yourself. YOU CAN GET PRE PACKAGED MEALS OF ORGANIC VEGETABLES DELIVERED RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR.
Let’s look deeper.
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This is a picture of Cornelius Vanderbilt, otherwise known as “The Commodore.”
Vanderbilt was a shipping tycoon in the 1800’s. He accumulated America’s largest fortune. He was the richest man the country had ever known. He basically invented corporatism. He was straight forward, ruthless, feared and also celebrated within in society. Today, one of the countries most prestigious schools is named after him. He lived a lavish lifestyle, one that we should all aspire to, right?
Here’s the deal… Vanderbilt never had running water.
Modern day plumbing wasn’t even invented until the 1930’s. He never had an air conditioner, he never heated food up in a microwave, he didn’t even live long enough to see the world’s first light bulb.
The point that I am trying to make is that this man controlled a HUGE fortune. This was before monopoly laws and trade regulation. He was richer than we can imagine. In today’s standard he would have been a trillionaire.
But he didn’t have running water. He had to shit in a bucket. He was surrounded by measles, typhoid, scarlet fever and dysentery.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather have my life then have his life. No question. I wouldn’t think twice about it.
Below is a picture of two children living in the Borno state of Nigeria.
This picture was taken in 2016, and the state of things in Borno has improved. But there is still child poverty on a global scale. Could there be a more heartbreaking picture?
Could you imagine anything more devastating than a 5 year old dying of starvation?
From 2016 till now, it is estimated that 200,000 children died from malnutrition and starvation in Borno. An entire generation of children vanished. This is not a new problem and this is not an anomaly. Even in America, child poverty is a problem. In fact, child poverty rates in America are among the worst in developed countries. It’s a real issue and one that we should all be ashamed of.
When I see this picture and when I think of kids in our own country who are eating bad food every day and are getting a shit education, I feel a strange combination of sadness and gratitude. I am sad because we are leaving these kids behind even though we have enough money to feed and educate everyone three times over. But I am grateful because in spite of all the things I didn’t have growing up, I always had food on the table and I always had shoes on my feet.
Everyone has problems.
I am not discrediting that at all. We are living through an incredible addiction crisis that is killing people every day. We have political tension, anger, depression, suicide and endless war. It’s not good.
I am simply urging you to take a few moments each day to keep things in perspective. I am giving you the opportunity to see your life for what it is and to remind yourself each day how lucky you are.
You are among the elite few in the history of our world. No one has ever had it better then you. Your life expectancy is longer then its ever been, your leisure time is longer then it has ever been. Your access to knowledge and education is more plentiful then it has ever been.
So don’t waste it. Don’t waste your time being angry about all the things you don’t have. Don’t spend your days gazing into your cell phone and certainly don’t waste any more time complaining about how hard your life is.
You have everything you could ever need and most of everything you could ever want. You are beautiful and you have the chance to live a life then most people would do anything to have.
To waste it would be a tragedy to the likes of which we have never seen.