“In my business, we like to say we’re from the hood. We’re not in the hood. By no means. Not even close.”
-Jay Z in “Water For Life”
I bet I catch some flack over this one, but it has to be said…
Over the last few weeks I’ve read several posts around the blogosphere about how tough times are financially right now. Gas prices are soaring, and…people are still complaining about traffic, so someone’s driving. The stock market is sort of…just steady. And I guess if you’re basing your assessment of your financial situation on how well your stock portfolio is doing, that’s not all bad. Interest rates are…near an all time low, though artificially. Unemployment is…5.1% (low). And the obesity rate of our country is reaching a level of crisis, so I guess there aren’t that many people going hungry.
Is this as bad as the Bush administration could screw things up? Is this all they’ve got?
Believe me, I’m a little frustrated too that times are so tough here in the land of milk and honey that we can only get milk and honey a few days a week. The other days we’re stuck with choosing either milk or honey.
It’s gotten to the point that even the Jigga Man has problems. Based on what I’ve heard and the evidence presented in the graph above, he has at least 99 problems.
Then again, I don’t see any basic needs of survival listed as any of his problems either.
Seriously, I know there are people out there who are struggling just to get by. I know that. But what does “get by” entail here?Â And how many bloggers are rummaging through virtual dumpsters to get a virtual meal via their high speed internet connections?
What are we actually struggling for? Bandwidth?
Are there problems? Hell yeah! Should we be concerned? Of course. But let’s keep things in perspective here. Having to sacrifice by doing things like cutting back to basic cable, making coffee at home and carrying a thermos, carpooling to work (with air conditioning), or not going to Disney this year are not the end of the world.
You hear it all the time, but it’s true. Go to some other country where people are really poor, and you’ll come back thankful for all of the luxuries the poorest of us enjoy here. When you see firsthand that “average” or “struggling” here is better than “wealthy” in many places, your perspective is changed forever.
It’s not just me, either. My grandfather, who grew up dirt poor during The Depression (capital letters, because that was for real) had this to say in his journal about his travels to New Guinea during World War II:
The only identity of men or women in their dress was their breast. I saw women with breast that hung down to their belt line. The men used pits to trap hogs and they would catch small pigs in them. I have seen women feeding babies and pigs also. They would feed the pigs until they could eat solid food or other things. They sure had a hard way of survival. I always thought I was poor and brought up the hard way. The only comparison I had up to that time was with people doing better than we were. When I saw a different comparison, I suddenly discovered that I had been rich all along and didnâ€™t know it.
Not trying to trivialize anyone’s problems here, but please, let’s keep some perspective.Â It’s not as though our women are breast feeding piglets to the point that they can eat solid foods so that we’ll one day (hopefully) be able to trap them, slaughter them, and have a meal.
By the way, if you are interested in helping someone who is trying to survive day to day have clean drinking water, please consider helping at PlayPumps.org.Â You can also learn more about Jay Z’s travels to Africa to document their water issues at MTV.com.