A Little Bit of Perspective
Like most people, I occasionally find myself in the trap of "Keeping Up with the Joneses". It's so easy to whine about the fact that we can't take that vacation this winter because the windows needed to be replaced, or bemoan the fact that my closet is a shadow of what it once was. In these trying times in our country, so many people are without work, health care, or even a home to live in. That in itself is enough to put things into perspective.
The sad truth is that much of the 99% in this country would be considered the 1% in the poorer countries of the world. When I think about it that way, it makes me realize that my family and I have it good-very good. A piece I recently heard on NPR sparked my curiosity, so I did a little research into living conditions around the world. This, in turn, inspired me to compile a short list of things I am grateful for as a parent.
1. Access to clean drinking water - Did you know that "884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; approximately one in eight people."? Every time I go to put water in a glass for my daughter, I can be relatively sure that what I am giving her won't make her sick-or worse. Not so for far too many people in this world. Here is a truly shocking statistic: "3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease."
2. Access to education for my daughter - My daughter will have the same rights afforded to her, in regard to education, as a boy would. Though it seems much progress has been made in the world, there is still a disparity between the sexes in many countries (especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-Asia) "By 2009, the total number of OOS children declined to 67 million. Around 35 million girls were still out of school compared to 31 million boys.
3. Access to sufficient food - I have never known the heartbreak of hearing my daughter cry out from true hunger. Many children in this world-even in our own country-go to bed hungry each night "925 million people do not have enough to eat and 98 percent of them live in developing countries".
4. Freedom of speech/assembly- I need only listen to the news and hear stories of protesters being harassed, beaten, shot at, tortured, or killed in places like Syria or Libya to make me realize how lucky I am in this regard. By and large, the "occupy" protesters in this country have been allowed to gather and protest peacefully. It's easy to take this for granted, but we can call the president or anyone else in government a jerk and not be persecuted for it.
5. Access to healthcare - I am grateful that my family has health insurance. I have been one of the "withouts" at different times in my adult life, but I am fortunate enough to have insurance now-through my husband's employer. The staggeringly high number of people in this country without insurance never fails to make my jaw drop. "The number of people who lacked health insurance last year climbed to 49.9 million, up from 49 million in 2009" I can't imagine how stressful it must be to have a child and not have access to quality health care at a reasonable cost
It's a good exercise to sit down once and a while and take stock in everything I have, instead of focusing on what I want.