Whenever I’m in a situation that I’m not sure how to handle, or if I’m trying to make a tough decision, I have a rule of thumb I try to maintain: Step back and look at the big picture. I mean the really big picture. I’m a human on this thing called Earth and I try remember a few rules: love people, love God, have fun, and try not to get killed. This comes in handy when I’m stressing about or over-analyzing personal situations or disagreements.
I oftentimes put myself in this big picture point of view when thinking about food and cooking. If I’m ever too hungry (do we really know hungry?) or too stuffed (a little guilty), deciding whether to get a salad or fried chicken (seize your health or seize the day?), or when I start to feel sorry for myself about being “poor”, or not being able to afford the best food around.
Seeing Real Poverty Changes You
It really is hilarious that I’m considered “poor”. I was in a debate on the Facebook wall of TOM’S shoes last week when they announced a new style shoe. Someone complained that Americans need to take care of Americans and stop worrying about everyone else. I hear this all the time, as I’ve been involved in international missions.
Some agreed with her, but most would’ve thrown stones if they could’ve. I calmly responded to said person that if one has that mentality, I’d be willing to bet that they’ve never traveled to a 3rd world country. That they had never actually seen someone dying of hunger right in front of them, or really understood what it takes for some people to get enough dirty water to survive that day.
As I’m sure some of you have, I’ve seen that with my own eyes and lived among it for short periods of time (2 weeks to 1 year) and I can tell you that when you’re in places like that it changes you. It has to change you. Suddenly, you have the ability to step back and look at the big picture of your existence and put your so-called “suffering” into perspective.
1st World Poor
They say that a typical “poor” American, defined by the government has “a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family’s essential needs.”
Seriously? I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of you reading this may claim to be relatively poor, yet most of you probably have everything above—and if you don’t have it, it’s because you don’t want it (I don’t want cable. I’d watch it too much).
One of my favorite Twitter hashtags is #FirstWorldProblem. I like to use it for posts and comments like I’ve seen in the past week, like, “My apartment’s AC is too cold!” or “I had to buy another fridge and freezer just to hold all the food we bought!”
3rd World Poor
If I had to write the census’ version of a typical “poor” 3rd world citizen, I’d say something like, “has a structurally unsound 1-room shack made out of metal or plastic scraps, has a bucket in the corner for hygiene needs, must bathe and drink from public sources within several miles and typically walks through open sewers in commute. Has one light bulb for entire house and a sheet for his front door. He feeds his family with a few bags of flour or rice. He does not have electricity or running water. He is prone to several life-threatening diseases and does not have easy access or funds to obtain medical care.” #RealWorldProblem
So no, I don’t feel sorry for myself when I have crappy meals. I didn’t feel sorry for myself last night when I had leftover rice, gravy and hot sauce for the 3rd night in a row. We are so caught up in this mentality of needing everything on a silver platter, that we forget how thankful we should be that we have clean water and a roof over our heads.
We should be the healthiest people in the world, yet, we’re probably more malnourished than most people in third world countries because of our eating habits—because we make the wrong food choices. Awww, poor us! We have whole supermarkets we can choose from!
Stop feeling sorry for yourself and calling yourself poor—and especially using that as an excuse to be a slob. You don’t know poor. If you live in a first world country, especially in the United States, you need to remember what you’re capable of and the freedom you have to be financially stable, if not extremely successful.
Do you have any idea how rich you are? Life’s too short to spend it complaining! Be content with what you have and don’t let the world tell you otherwise.