Monday, August 22, 2011

Appreciating Life in America

Today, millions of people of all ages all over the world are carrying buckets as they walk various distances to community wells, or to rivers and lakes, many polluted, to obtain the water they will need for cooking, washing, etc. I do not know if they have to pay for the water. Many, however, probably struggle to carry the heavy weight of liquid.

Most Americans, however, can walk into the kitchen, bathroom, or to the front or back yard, turn on the faucet, adjusting the temperature from hot to cold (typically only cold water outside the house), and let pour as much water as is needed for the task.  We do pay for the water, but it is brought right to our homes.  Also, we receive reports on the quality of the water and, if a pipe breaks, we can usually get help right away.

Today, millions of people all over the world are washing clothes and other items as they stand in the lake or river and scrub by hand. Then they hang out the items on the line to dry.

Most Americans, however, can walk to the washer, throw the clothes in, add detergent, set the machine, and walk away, enjoying an automatic cleansing of items.  When the washing has finished, we toss the clothes into the dryer.  We pay for the appliances and we pay for the electricity or gas to run them.  We once had to separate clothes by colors and now there are chemically treated paper cloths available that will absorb any dyes that run from clothing/items.  Whites can go in with reds.  That's both good and bad.  Good that we advanced to that and bad because it always was fun to see guys that washed red t-shirts with white underwear end up wearing pink briefs!  Of course, items are still separated by weight - heavy jeans not washed with delicate silks.  And some people in our country do wash by hand and hang out clothes.  Most of us, however, who have had to do that (and I have), find a way to buy the washer and dryer.  After all, we need time to watch our favorite TV programs.

Which brings us to television.  Many people in the world do NOT have televisions, much less computers, cellphones, even land-line phones, etc., although more and more people are getting cellphones, even in third-world nations.  I think radio may be where most third-world nations start, since it is cheaper.

In America, we have access to all types of technology, including Ipads and Iphones with cameras.  We even have those big screens on the walls that present us with fabulously clear and detailed pictures. Of course, for we chocoholics, it is overwhelming to see an M&Ms package that is 2 feet by 9 inches.

People around the world have no way to keep their foods cool.

In America, we have refrigerators and freezers.  Sometimes, I remember the icebox in the old Jackie Gleason TV show.  Did somebody, using those big pincers, drag ice up all those stairs to their apartment?  How much did the ice cost?  Before electriciy, where did the ice come from?   Did people go on ships to the Arctic, cut out ice blocks, transport them back to the big cities, and sell the ice in those horse-drawn carriages the moved through the streets? What a far cry from the refrigerated units we now enjoy.  We can even get ice from the fridge door!

Around the world, people suffer with the heat and cold, not to mention all the bugs, snakes, and other critters.

In America, we have window air conditioners, space heaters, fireplaces, or, if more fortunate, central air and heat.  We have lots of cans of chemicals we can spray to kill what we don't want in the house or we can pay someone to come protect us from yucky things, except for fire ants, that is!

My mind wanders - I think fireants came to the U.S. from South America.  Their bites are horrible.  Many illegal drugs also come from there.  Maybe the fire ants were sent purposefully so that people with lots of bites would use illegal drugs to erase the reality of itching and burning. Another conspiracy!

Getting back on track - around the world, people walk, ride camels, ride horses, ride in wagons that are pulled by oxen, horses, even people, or endure some other more difficult type of transportation.

In America, we climb into our cars and pickup trucks and go wherever we want, depending on how much money we have for fuel and maintenance.  Hopefully, the license tag has been paid for, the vehicle has an up-to-date inspection sticker, and there is insurance.  In America, trucks of all sizes transport stuff we want to stores at which we shop for food, clothing, furniture, etc.

Around the world, people live in villages with no doctor. They suffer with no prescription drugs.

In America, we have doctors everywhere and many so specialized they can fix almost anything wrong with us.  We have drugstores in every town. Maybe we even have too much availability of prescription drugs.

Around the world, people can't vote for their leaders.  In fact, in many places, they wake up and go to sleep listening to gunfire. 

Oh, should have left out that last sentence.  Unfortunately, we have that in America, although we can vote for our leaders.  Of course, many Americans are too lazy to read about the issues, make up their minds, and go to the trouble of going to the voting booth.

Around the world, millions of children get no education.

In America, every child gets an education that is free for them (although taxpayers pay for it).  As I told my students during the four years I taught in a public school, if you don't like it here because you have to study and do homework, I can guarantee you there are many children who would be very happy to switch lives with you, even if they had to do 10 times the work!

There are very ugly things that happen to many people around the world.

We have some of that, but we do have law and order and most laws are enforced and most law enforcement people are good and honest and care about protecting and serving society.

The point - shut up all the complaining.  Yes, we have high unemployment - 9.1% unemployed, means 90.9% employed, on average.  As bad as it is for there to be 50% unemloyment among teens in Chicago and Detroit, at least 50% do have jobs. 

Yes we have inflation in food and energy prices.  But we have food and energy available to us.

I'm not trying to negate the pain of people who have lost jobs and who are having a hard time paying for food and gas, mortgages, and other bills.  You have a right to complain and more power to you.  Scream as loud as you want to!

What I am saying is, for my friends who complain even though they live in nice and clean homes, have jobs, cars, running water, appliances, and so much more, please realize even the poorest people in America are richer than who are considered the richest people in some third world nations.  If your guy or girl dumped you, there are more possibilities out there.  Unless you have a really good reason for complaining, please keep your petty complaints to yourself and share with us friends the really serious issues.

Today, I'm washing clothes in my washer and will toss them into my dryer.  Today, I water the plants in my cottage with water I obtained by simply turning on the faucet.  This morning I drove to the bank, the post office, and Wal-mart in a car that got me there safe and in much faster time than I could have walked, ridden a horse, camel, elephant, ox, or dinosaur.  I haven't yet met any aliens from other planets who would zap me up from my cottage and zap me down at my target errands.

As bad as this heat is for us, I think it was worse for the pioneers, who tilled the fields and, when they came into their houses to rest, they had only breezes (if there were any) through open windows (without screens) to enjoy.

In America, we have it great.  Yes, we have problems.  Our citizens have brains and if the complainers would stop complaining and start coming up with solutions to our problems, wouldn't we all be better off?

I greatly appreciate being an American and having access to so much.  I especially appreciate that my children and grandchildren are healthy and if an accident happens, we can call an ambulance or we can drive down the road a few miles to a hospital.  And, I appreciate that I can write this as my washer does its work.

I am so proud to be an American.  And, I am so NOT a socialist or communist.  I don't want to give up what we have so that someone else can have it.  I'd rather just see all those millions of people all over the world come up to our lifestyle (the postiive parts of it) without our having to lose what we have.  The more educated and informed those people become, the better the chance they will work for what we have.  If you don't believe that, look at China and India!  I believe in Capitalism and those nations that are reaching and passing us are doing it through Capitlism.

Education and information are key, as are the opportunities for entrepreneurs and inventors to bring their ideas into practial technology that can be freely available and purchased. 

Washer shut off - time to toss clothes into the dryer and for me to move on to the next project.  Think I'll go to the refrigerator and fill my glass with tea.  How I appreciate being so fortunate!

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