First World vs Third World Concerns
A wealthy Englishman once remarked: “I find it easier to be a member of a club than of the human race because the bylaws are shorter, and I know all the members personally.”
Groucho Marx once quipped, “I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor, and rich is better.”
The problem is that all of us have problems. But we all have different problems. And many of us like to think that our problems are unique to us so that we might see ourselves as unique.
Whatever any of us worry about is calibrated emotionally and not bordered by reason. So whatever we worry about is real to us. And yet, for some of us the problem is we don’t have a roof over our head, and for some of us the problem is that our dry cleaning isn’t ready on time.
The problem is that many of us have forgotten how blessed we are to have our problems.
The problem is that for many the ability to forget our problems isn’t that easy. Hunger is not something so easily forgotten. Or that your children are hungry. Or that you’ve been hungry for all your life. Or that your parents died hungry.
The problem is that we all have hungers. We all want something.
The problem is that many of us want more. And some of us just want something.
There is an old adage in Yiddish that wisely reminds: “Only people with bread think about butter.”
Think about how your bread is buttered. And if you’re thinking about whether your bread is gluten free, or how many carbs are in the bread, get down on your knees or raise your arms and shout Hallelujah.
And then think about those who have less. And too often less and less. And don’t think about them any less then you would want to be thought of if you were cold and hungry, and fearing the night, and feeling that you can’t remember the time you felt someone was thinking about you.
Margaret Mead said “the beginning of all civilization was when someone wondered where you were when you didn’t come home at night.”
Living in a first world country does not mean that we come first.
Living in a first world country often means we are simply members of the lucky sperm bank.
When you count your good fortune remember that we all count. That’s not a new math. Nothing else adds up. First world and Third world are One world.
Executive Director, THE JUSTICE PROJECT