Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Listen to Your Own Advice

One of my dear friends provides the function of "ventee," meaning she to whom I vent. Now there is nothing wrong with letting off a little steam instead of allowing oneself to become a walking pressure cooker in danger of exploding. But occasionally, it is helpful to take a look at what is causing the buildup and see if the rising temperature has a legitimate cause.

Sometimes my buddy listens patiently and sometimes she passes a judgement or offers advice that is always perceived as innaccurate and/or unkind. (Note to advice givers - don't offer it unless asked, and even then tread lightly.)

However, one day she made a statement that has been a bell weather for all my varied states of affairs: "Just thank god you weren't born a poverity-stricken woman in Somalia."

People of all sexes and ages have suffered greatly in this unfortunate part of Africa plagued by civil war, famine, and other misfortunes over the past decades. But compared to females in Sweden, who have social parity with men even when it comes to paychecks, the Somalian woman suffers a hard lot, female circumcision being only one of many indignities suffered.

Lest I be accused of picking on Somalians, how about the North Korean state, now being compared in cruelty to the Nazis for the extent of their depravity? Or the CIA of American brand for their rendition policies?

Let's face it: the world is replete with injustices of all kinds. For those of us living in relative comfort, in a land of relative free speech and moderate governance, it is always good to express gratitude. Sure, it's frustrating to spend four hours on the phone trying to register for Medicare, or learn that your car repairman overcharged you $70, or have to wait fifteen minutes in the grocery store line so that the coupon cutter in front of you can get their two cents worth.

But come on, isn't it better than being a political prisoner in North Korea, or a war refugee in Syria, or a woman in Somalia? In this relative world, the panaromic view will always serve to elevate our consciousness beyond the pettiness that can sometimes overwhelm an ordinary life.

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