Last year I read a book by the name of Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDun that gave me a whole new perspective on life. The book showed us the lives of many women from Africa and Asia who are living in horribly dire circumstances. We are talking about circumstances most of us in the United States have never witnessed. Story after story is shared of women suffering without running water, sewer systems, and electricity. Some have a makeshift tent for a home, others are “lucky” enough to have a one room hut. Many of these women and their children survive for months on what we in the United States eat in one week. There is no health care, and I don’t mean that they have no health insurance, I mean there is not a doctor, much less a clinic or hospital within any reasonable distance. Babies and adults DIE of diarrhea. As if this all isn’t bad enough, then you add to it the violence these women face. Many women have stories so brutal they make the slasher films of Hollywood look down right G-rated. Basic education is almost unheard of. Girls and boys getting an elementary education is something celebrated with the same enthusiasm that we use to celebrate the completion of a doctoral degree. Even then, having the ability to read or write doesn’t mean there is anything to read or anything to write on or with. Even if one does have the supplies with which to read and write, one probably doesn’t have the freedom to read and write what one wants. What makes all of this even more astounding is that this is not the overblown stories of an unlucky few in far reaching areas of African and Asia. These are the everyday stories of MILLIONS of people.
Now let’s compare that to my situation right this second. At this moment I am sitting at a desk in an air conditioned building. There are bathrooms just down the hallway and I have clean running water available at one of probably 30 sinks in my office building. I have a job in which I am guaranteed certain rights to not be overworked and exploited. I have a college degree and can read and write whatever I want whenever I want. There is no fear of being raped, beaten or thrown in jail simply for what I read or what I write on my blog or on Facebook. My opinions fall from my mouth and fingers on a daily basis and my biggest fear is someone leaving a nasty comment on my Facebook page. There is so much food available to me that I have a severe weight problem. Most of us eat because it tastes good, not because we are hungry. Medical care is just a phone call, car ride, or ambulance ride away. The likelihood of me dying of diarrhea is nil. Even if I lost my job and home right this second there are still homeless shelters to go to that are like living in the lap of luxury compared to circumstances described in the beginning of this post.
I call this my Gratitude Perspective. When I am really low or frustrated I try to compare whatever situation I am in to the circumstances of the women in Half the Sky. It never fails to bring about some sort of attitude adjustment.
Here is a link to the book discussed in this post.
Also, you will find a link for the Half the Sky website in my links section. PLEASE take a second to check it out. You can find a ton of information there as well as links to AMAZING charities dedicated to helping the women of the world. One of my favorites is Women for Women International. There is a link for WFWI in my links section as well.
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