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Monday, November 13, 2006

A little perspective


I plugged my annual salary into this wealth calculator today. Try it out and see where you fall. According to the list, I rank in the top 0.9 percent of the world in terms of income. Granted, I'm only the 54,214,557th wealthiest individual worldwide, but that's out of 6,000,000,000 people. Six billion people.

I'm not pointing this out to boast. Why would I, when there are so many people who outrank me? There are plenty of people I know who make more money than I do, much less the 54 million I don't. What struck me today is just how much I personally take for granted and how much I focus primarily on my own circumstances. (I'm not being humble as an act of self-flagellation--I know lots of us fall into this category, but this raw number really illustrated the point for me.)

My wife and I were talking over the weekend about how much we all tend to focus on what we know, on the things right in front of us. Our immediate field of vision, literally and figuratively, is what concerns us. What does it matter that places such as Darfur (Wikipedia entry) exist when we have tangible distractions that are so much closer to home?

It should mean everything that places like this exist and that we are ignoring the squalor and suffering taking place elsewhere. It's awfully easy to tune out when the pain and anguish in the world is one remote control click away.

I realize I'm pontificating a bit, and some of that is a result of my own guilt at living in the comfort I do when others would be happy with far less. Is it my place to singlehandedly change all of this? Undoubtedly, no, but it is my place, I think, to think about how I could live my life a little differently. What would my life and our country look like if we kept the rest of the world in mind while we went about our business each day?

1 comment:

CHEZ BEZ said...

Well said. I spend a lot of time thinking about the same.