Winter has come to Western New York. Yesterday, as I made my way on foot into town to enjoy our little, local, coffee shop I shivered for the first mile of my journey. I work part-time at minimum wage, so my winter gear is not what it could be. I was cold, and feeling a little miserable, and then, as my body warmed up with activity I realized it was silly to be so put out by a little discomfort, which is all it was. My ancestors weathered worse winters with far less. I was not going to freeze to death or lose limbs to frost bite. It was just an inconvenience.
Then I got to thinking about how often we over react to these set backs. I am not talking a resigned sigh or mild annoyance. I have sen people quake with rage over waiting in line, over the air conditioning being on too high in a building, or a dish they ordered not tasting exactly as they had hoped. Our lives have become so full of luxury that we are blind to them, and have begun to believe they should be filled with joy in every moment, unsullied by any obstacle, no matter how insignificant.
It seems the kinder life has been to us the crueller we are to life. We demand more of it, and expect less of ourselves. We become numb to real happiness and to real suffering. We roar with rage over the most miniscule slight, real or imagined, yet expect those truly suffering to get over it. Too often I have heard well-fed, safe, middle class people compare their trivial hurdles to the real human deprivation you can find just a half hour from their suburban homes.
I just cannot fathom how we can let this happen to us. It is though we like being miserable and in some twisted fashion actually envy those who know true misery. At least that is how we behave. Would it not be better to count our blessings, especially those of us who have truly been blessed, rather than insult the lives of those less blessed by complaining that our privilege is not complete?
Obviously if you have been reading me a while now you know I don’t believe the world is perfect. Many of us, including those who enjoy a certain amount of privilege do face challenges that make life legitimately harder than they ought to be. We do ourselves, and those who have it far worse, injury when we focus so much of our outrage on the tiny things. By all means, roll your eyes, sigh, or laugh at the ridiculousness of it. Then after you’ve done that, remember that it is just a world of inconveniences and that world walls us off from true terror, terror that too many of our brothers and sisters face, and that yes, we have the power to chase away for them, if we stop busying ourselves with the inconsequential.
- An Inconvenience (californiasoulblog.wordpress.com)
- Immigrant Song (cardiffcoolcat.com)
- Tips: What to do if your flight is delayed or canceled (usatoday.com)
- If you wait in line on Black Friday, you’re saving less than minimum wage (deathandtaxesmag.com)