Sunday, December 17, 2006

How Lucky We Are

My coffee reading this morning included a post by Phantom and an article in the NY Times, both of which offer a way of seeing how lucky we are to have what we have and to live the way we do.

The winter holidays are often a time when the stark contrast between rich and poor become most obvious. Those of us with decent incomes and families who also have decent incomes lament the abundance we're showered with and worry about our children being too materialistic. Lurking in the back of our minds, we may know people who have nothing, who scrape together just enough money to get their kids something for Christmas or who rely on charity to provide gifts and food for the holidays. I find myself sometimes feeling guilty about not doing more. Or living less abundantly. Partly I don't do more because I don't feel financially secure even though I know I make more than 90% of the country. I worry about losing a job, about putting my kids through college, about being able to buy a new car when the old one breaks down. But these are frivilous worries compared to some. Even if one of us lost our job, we'd find a way to survive. We might have to buy a cheaper home, buy fewer clothes and toys, but we'd be able to eat.

I do feel lucky. It's honestly taken me a while to feel this way since I'm living less affluently than my parents did. I think one of my resolutions for the new year will be to find a way to contribute more to causes I care about, to help alleviate the horrible disparity not just between myself and another American, but myself and billions of people around the world. In the NY Times article, Singer does the math and figures that if the top 10% of Americans gave on a sliding scale, we could eliminate world poverty. That's pretty amazing. Imagine what the world would be like then.