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Taking wealth for granted

By AMINA MAMATY

February 18, 2013, some of us are still single, and it is still snowing. What’s new? Well, I can’t really help you much about the first part, but as crazy as it may sounds, I believe that snow should make us appreciate life a little more, and here is why.

As I, once again, was people watching, one of my supervisors approaches and engages me in casual conversation. Somehow, we came to talk about our Spring Break plans. He asked me where I was going and I told him that I was going to Florida. After breaking down all my plans while I was going to be in South Beach, I then asked him what was his. He responded: “I am poor, I am not going anymore.” I looked at him and said, “You are not poor.” He insisted, “Well, I can’t go to Florida.”
Our conversation stayed on my mind for a while and made me reevaluate the whole meaning of the word.

It is not the first time that this actually happens. During my American senior year of high school in Grand Rapids, I had a lot of friends who would describe themselves as poor, and not as a joke. They would come to school looking nice, have a house and always something to eat, but still feel poor? I asked myself, in America, does being poor mean that you can’t have something you want? Instead of something you need? I’ve always thought that the word “poor” was only used to describe the homeless, and I found it being used very loosely by a lot of people. It is snowing, we have a house and a bed to sleep on, some people, however, do not.

Not just in United States but also in other first world countries, we tend to have so much, that we feel like we never have enough. We have cars, and as long as it takes us where we need to be we should be content, but instead, we want better looking ones. Clothes were only made to keep us warm. Look at us now, girls want the latest fashionable dress from Forever 21, and guys would rather buy a pair of shoes worth a hundred dollars than pay their phone bills. We want, we do not need. If only we would be grateful. Everyone loves vacations but not going anywhere for Spring Break shouldn’t determine your social status. I had the chance to experience a lot while living with a bunch of American host families. Some of them would have trouble paying for food and other necessities but would have a television in each room of the house, watching commercials of food products that they couldn’t even buy. Maybe changing some of our priorities would help.

It is hard to focus on what’s important in our lives nowadays, and we can’t force ourselves to be happy, but we can still try to remember to be thankful for what we need and have to show respect to those who do not.

Published February 17, 2013 in Global Perspectives

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