Something I’ve noticed in my own life (and perhaps you’ve noticed in yours) is that sometimes (perhaps often), we tend to look at what we don’t have and fail to appreciate what we do have.
I live in a fairly affluent area. Within minutes of our home, there are neighborhoods with multi-million dollar homes. As a result, my wife and I sometimes jokingly refer to our neighborhood as the “slums,” though by any objective measure, we are extremely fortunate. Nevertheless, at times we’ve found ourselves thinking “Gee, Mr. So-and-so drives a new BMW,” or “The Smiths are going to Europe again,” and then it’s hard not to think “Why not us?”
Ironically, others are probably looking at us and having similar thoughts.
Sadly, I think it’s human nature to focus on what we don’t have and throw ourselves a pity party, than to be appreciative for what we have. Then, out of the blue, you have an experience that shoves reality back in your face. (And no, I’m not talking about the kind of “reality” you see on Survivor—though admittedly I’m a little embarrassed to admit I am a closet Survivor fan.)
One such experience happened to me a couple of months back. A friend—a former co-worker—had just returned from volunteering at a refugee camp in Africa. Shockingly, this particular camp has more than 2 million inhabitants. The stories she told made the day-to-day “issues” we face seem so shallow. She conveyed stories of “homes” of 6-10 children all under the age of 12 living together with no parental supervision because the parents had died of disease. She told stories of severe hunger and starvation despite the fact that many of the world’s relief organizations are there trying to lend a hand. I could go on and on, but the point is this: while I think most of us want to believe that the worst suffering happened in the past, there are countless instances of suffering around the world today, and yet we don’t hear about it. Part of the reason we don’t hear about it is that it’s not reported—or at least not reported very often in the mainstream media. And admittedly, part of the reason is that we’re all too “busy” to take the time to learn what’s going on. Either way, “out of sight” generally equals “out of mind.”
Neither you nor I is going to be able to solve those issues alone. After all, what can we do compared to the efforts of the world’s largest relief organizations? But, we can do something. It may sound naïve or corny, but one life saved makes a difference. Please adopt the current LifeTango Challenge (Contribute To American Idol Gives Back Or A Similar Cause) and do something to build awareness or provide funding, however great or small, to help improve the situation, whether it be for one person or many.