Last week I wrote a four-part series that focused on the issues and problems facing the nation, but now I think it is time to look at the other side of the coin. Certainly we have problems that need to be addressed … no nation, no government, no individual is perfect. However, in the grand scheme of things, our country is doing a lot more right than wrong. There is a lot more good than bad, and we have much more to be thankful for than to grumble about.
How any one person sees the ‘big picture’ is all about perspective. In other words, it is relative to other things. If I look at my neighbor’s SUV and then my empty parking space, I might be inclined to feel sorry for myself, for I have no car and she has a fairly new SUV. But wait … she has car payments of $300 or more, while I have none. And I do not have a car because I choose to not have a car. My needs are few, my daughter has a car that I can use at night, and my other neighbor lends me her car every time I need one. So, when I look at it from that perspective, I am very thankful that I do not have a car, no car payments, no worries about insurance, taxes, repairs. See? It is all in how you look at it.
We have too long been listening to politicians and the media who tell us about the 1% who have millions or even billions of dollars, who eat steak and lobster every night and live in huge houses with staff to do their cleaning and take care of their expansive lawns. We are encouraged to believe that we would have more if only … if only we didn’t have to support those terrorist Muslims and murdering, rapist Mexicans. If only all the good jobs weren’t being sent overseas. If only we didn’t have to fund social welfare programs and healthcare, the elderly and the infirm. We are told, in graphic displays, how afraid we must be of terrorists and, after all, lurking behind every hijab must be a terrorist in the making. We are told that we should be angry over all these things and more, that we should fear big government telling us that we must respect all and not be biased toward any. We are told we should live in utter panic because a person with a penis might enter the ladies’ restroom or vice versa. But what about the other side of the coin? And note that every coin does, indeed have two sides.
Rather than look at my humble abode as compared to a millionaire’s mansion, let me look at it as compared to this home in Mexico ,
or this one in Moldova . Suddenly my home looks pretty good! We may not have steak and lobster every night … actually, we never eat steak and lobster, but we always have plenty of fresh vegetables, rice, pasta, beef and chicken to eat. Meanwhile, 795 million people worldwide are malnourished, and two-thirds, 67%, of people in Asia do not have adequate food to eat. So, my chicken and fresh veggies are sounding really good!
In 2014, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 7.3%. At the same time, eight nations had unemployment rates in excess of 50%! For the years 2011-2015, the U.S. had the second highest average wage rate ($58,714) of countries listed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Mexico had the lowest at $14,867, less than one-fourth that of the U.S..
Worried, as we’ve been told we should be, about terrorism? Not particularly. The U.S. ranks #35 in the list of countries most affected by terrorist attacks.
The United States, as of June 2016, is the 9th richest nation out of 196 in the world, based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP of the U.S. is $54,630, as compared to 25 poorest nations, all of whom have GDP under $1,000! There are some interesting comparisons here that I will tackle in a separate post, but suffice it to say that of the eight nations with higher GDP than the U.S., five (Qatar, Kuwait, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Norway) owe their fortunes to an abundance of oil, and the other three (Luxembourg, Singapore, Switzerland) to finance. Contrary to what some say, I think that if the U.S. ranks 9th out of 196, we are doing something right!
It all boils down to the old “glass half-full, glass half-empty” dilemma. Certainly you can listen to the likes of Donald Trump and others who will tell you that our nation is in horrible shape, that you are being deprived and are in constant danger. Or, you can look around and see for yourself what your world is really like. Do you see the sun shining, birds going about their daily business of gathering nectar, grass and wildflowers growing? Do you have a comfortable home, a place to keep dry when it rains, and warm in the winter? A bed to sleep in, a stove to cook your food and a refrigerator to keep it fresh? Do you have clothes to wear? And most importantly, do you have people in your life who care about you and about whom you care? Family, friends?
It is in the interest of nobody except the politicians themselves to paint a bleak picture. It is a simple marketing ploy … create a need and promise to fulfill that need. We, as a nation and as individuals, live better than most of the rest of the world. We are safer, wealthier, healthier, better fed, and better employed than the majority of the rest of the world. We do not need Donald Trump to make anything “great again”, because, if you will just look around, things are already pretty darned great. It is fine to have goals, to aspire to a bigger home, a nicer car … we all need something more to reach for. It only becomes a problem when we ourselves believe that without those “things”, we cannot be happy. It is a choice: to be happy or not. Personally, I choose to be happy with what I have and refuse to let anybody tell me that I should not be. I choose to awaken in the morning happy to have my work, my life, my family, rather than miserable because of what I lack. I pity those who would listen to the naysayers. So, what is your choice today?