5.21.2007

I Really Am Rich

I had a productive day at work and still got home a tick earlier than
usual. My wife and daughter were still at the park, not to come home
for another 45 minutes, giving me ample time to tend to some chores,
sort through the mail, get things ready for tomorrow, and get a jump
on dinner. I walked around the empty house and marveled at how clean
it was, and then made my way to the kitchen and marveled at how much
food I had to choose from.

And so I could not help but tell my wife, when she got home, that I
felt myself very rich. And I am. Rich with the love of my wife and
daughter, overflowing in tasty foods to eat, even with a relative
abundance of time to decompress after work. I feel rich because of it
all, and I am thankful, and that is a good thing.

Here's the thing, though, and the subject of today's post. These may
seem the right things, rather than material possessions, to consider
oneself rich in. But even in material possessions, I am rich. By the
world's standards, I am unbelievably, extraordinarily, even
disgustingly rich:

* When I got home, I used the bathroom and flushed the toilet, thus
using more water with the flick of a finger than each person in the
developing world has access to each day.

* The $60 I recently spent on books for myself and my wife is more
than most of the world makes in a month.

* The fact that I got a four-year degree means that I have more
education than 99% of the rest of the world's population.

In America, it can be easy to forget just how little most of the world
lives on. Even the poorest of neighborhoods in Philadelphia is vastly
richer than the typical neighborhood almost anywhere else in the
world.

This sort of disparity sobers me. It impels me to learn more, to
contribute where I can in terms of monetary giving, to think about
ways my vocational skills can intersect with making a difference. And
today, when I consider how rich I am in other ways, I remember with
gratitude that I am also rich in the conventional sense.

Post a Comment