Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy

Evidently this has been around for about 7 months. But it’s late night tv and I don’t do late night tv. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I just can’t keep my eyes open past 10:30pm. And TiVo or DVR? Our DVR is already 91% full with junk we haven’t watched yet but think we’re actually going to make time for. So, no room for late night tv on our DVR.

Comedian Louis C.K. shares his take on our skewed sense of reality. Amazing things are going on all around us and we take them for granted. Along these lines I’m reading a great book called “Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression.” little heathens

And now that I’m reading this book it annoys me even more when people try to compare the times we’re living in now, this “great” recession, to the Great Depression. I realize times are very tough now. Tougher than we’ve seen it in a very, very long time. But our great country is still, even in these “hard” times, so incredibly blessed. I recently listened to a story on the BBC World News commenting on a woman trying to feed her family in a small village in India. All they had to eat were lentils with water. Every meal. Every day. A segment on 60 Minutes years ago interviewed America’s poor. They interviewed the poor of NYC. America’s poor didn’t have their own health insurance – but they had Medicaid. They couldn’t afford to go out to eat – but they had food stamps. They lived in NY City and they didn’t have a car, but they had cable. Before I’m blasted for my comments let me say I am very aware that people are struggling every day in this country. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, there are some of us out there that need to readjust our perception. What IS poor? What IS tragic?

And so you can blast me armed with a little background knowledge let me put it out there that both my husband and I are college educated. But we worked for our education, paying for it through student loans and part-time jobs.  My husband makes enough money so that I can stay home with our children. We have a nice home and two cars. But it wasn’t always this way. And for a while, I was a single mother, teaching at a private school, making just above poverty level. In fact, if my car had been 2 years older I would have qualified for food stamps. But I didn’t feel poor. When I was very young I grew up in a home where all four of us kids slept in the only bedroom and my parents slept on a pull out couch in the living room. We rotated four meals throughout the week: spaghetti, mac and cheese, spanish rice and hotdogs and beans. My grandparents had to help us out periodically and I remember so looking forward to going to their house to be able to eat something different and have fresh fruit! Even then, I didn’t feel poor.  

It’s our perception. The reality hides in Zimbabwe, Somalia, the ghettos of India. What most of us enjoy today many in the world view as a luxury: fresh fruit and vegetables, more than three outfits, two pairs of shoes. A book to read. A television to watch. A refrigerator to keep things fresh.

What we enjoy today IS amazing!

Go here (on YouTube) to see this very funny video. Evidently, if I post it here I’m violating some copyright laws. Oops! (And here I display a Blog With Integrity badge……slinking off very quietly now. Sorry!)

12 Comments

Filed under Soapbox, Uncategorized

12 responses to “Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy

  1. Great post. That´s very true, often many issues are just a matter of perception.

  2. I’m right there with you. I remember when Silas was a baby and my ex-husband (husband at the time) was unemployed and we lived off $190 a week in unemployment… and we survived. We were able to eat, we lived in walking distance of the store, we got by… we had clean water and clothes to wear. sure, I was miserable, but that was because I was married to him, not because we were poor. 😛

    Also, that clip is just SPOT ON. I never knew that guy was so hillarious.

  3. OMG! That was hilarious! I was trying not to laugh so much because I am at work, but it was too hard not to. HE IS SPOT ON! And I so agree with you! I just wrote about this myself, how poverty is real but also a state of mind. Technically, I grew up “poor” by US poverty standards, but we never felt poor. Ever. I never felt unfortunate or deprived. But then again, I always had my great grandmother’s stories of her childhood in Italy to put things into perspective (eating pigeons, using cardboard for TP, spider webs for band-aids, etc.). Maybe that is why 😉

  4. I do agree — although I was also talking to my girlfriend the other day about why sometimes my life seems hard even though it’s not hard, and she said she thinks by and large, life is just hard, no matter what your circumstances. But I get that it’s a matter of degree and kind, and I am aware of the disparity, and that a lot of my problems are, in some ways, a luxury. We had a massive ice storm here just before our kids were born. Some people were without power and running water for weeks in the middle of the winter. A hardship? Yep. A massive pain in the ass and a hindrance to life going on as usual? You bet. A tragedy? Um, no. A tragedy is a tsunami, earthquake or war with massive loss of life. A tragedy is parents watching their kids die of starvation. And there are dozens more notches between tragedy and depression or anxiety or millennial angst or whatever the this is that drags at me from time to time.

  5. Joe

    My wife just showed me this clip a week ago, it’s so funny and so true.

    Give your phone a second! It’s going to SPACE!

    The poverty issue reminded me of something else I read recently. It’s pictures of families from different countries, and it lays out everything they eat in a week. It’s pretty powerful. I hope the link works. If not, google “what the world eats.”

    http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1626519,00.html

    • Yes, the link worked and oh my, is that striking. You see the abundance of Japan, of Italy and then Chad. So heartbreaking. And then in Bhutan – only $5 and look at all the food. While it still didn’t seem enough to feed everyone in the family I was surprised at how much $5 could buy. And the family from Mexico – how much soda they drank in a week. Wow. Makes me understand the soda tax they’re pushing here. Thanks for sharing that!

  6. Perception is definitely key to what we either take for granted or appreciate for it’s added dimensions to our lives.
    We’re scaling back on a lot of luxuries in our life right now because we want to be on a great financial track that would allow me to be home with our kids. So, we’re watching the pennies now so we can enjoy life more later.

  7. I wish I had seen the video. I so agree with what you said. It is about perception. I also get the meal thing and at least you had variety. My Mom cooked a big pot of beans on Sunday and they were still the main dish on Friday. But I never felt poor until I grew up and looked back, then I knew.

  8. Yes! I love that one. Esp. when he talks about air travel, I can definitely relate and of course feel ashamed by it. Now when I am trapped at the airport or on the runway, I would think of his skit and immediately feel less “entitled” to outrage.

  9. I worked in Chile for two years with a group of indigenous women (I was a Peace Corps volunteer). Poor is when you don’t have running water or electricity or indoor plumbing and you can’t afford to buy shoes or pencils for your children.

    It is not when you can afford a TV — but not a big-screen TV — or a cellphone — but not unlimited texting. It’s not when you run out of food money because you go to McDonald’s instead of making rice and beans from scratch. It’s not when you can afford cable or a cellphone or internet but won’t pay for health insurance with a $5,000 deductible that would cost you, a healthy, single young woman who is completely insurable, $60 a month.

  10. I have that book on my Amazon wishlist. I totally agree with you. Even the poorest of our poor are pretty well off in comparison to the the poor of other countries. I often wonder what people would do if this was a true depression like before. How would we handle it?

    Manuela

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