Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An exercise in gratitude

I’d like to challenge you to walk through this exercise with me. Now close your eyes and take a deep breath, and remember this version of you.

If you’re like most of us, the moment you wake up in the morning,  you’ll be headed for the shower. Or at least the nearest basin to brush your teeth. Now revel in that refreshing burst of clean water. 780 million people have no access to clean water. In fact, 3.4 million people die each year from water related diseases1. Think you’ve got it bad ? Think again.

Now that you’ve showered, follow me into the kitchen, where the smells of breakfast waft in the air. Perhaps you like to start your mornings with a strong cup of coffee, or perhaps breakfast is the most important meal of the day for you and you relish the sight of pancakes and bacon drenched in syrup. Approximately 870 million people go hungry every day. Hunger, is the number one health risk in the world2. Think you’ve got it bad ? Think again.

Alright sleepy head, rubbed the sleep off your eyes yet? Hop in the car and let’s head on to school / work. Are you dreading and whining about the long day ahead ?  61 million primary school children were not enrolled in school, almost half of this are not expected to ever get enrolled. 53% of the world’s school dropouts are girls, 2/3 of whom are illiterate3. Think you’ve got it bad ? Think again.

Do you hear the bell ? It’s lunchtime ! Let’s gather some mates and perhaps check out that new restaurant downtown. You pick up a heavy menu and glance through a long list of food choices. You know that people die from hunger, sure you read about it every time. Remember too that food wastage is  a huge contributor. 30% – 50%  of food produced or 1.2 to 2 billion tonnes of food gets binned around the world4. Thinking of leaving your plate half-eaten? Think again.

Man, that sure was a long day wasn’t it ? Finally, after battling crazy rush hour traffic, you open the doors to your home and dinner is already on the table. Some days, if not most days, you’ll probably spend dinner bickering with your siblings, or giving your spouse the cold shoulder.  40 million children are abused each year.  Child rape occurs every two minutes (to put it bluntly, in the time it took you to get to this paragraph, a child has been raped)5.  A worrying 10 – 69% of women are abused by an intimate partner, with more than 1.5 million people losing their lives to violence every year.6 Think you’ve got it bad ? Think again. 

Now it’s time for bed, and we’ve walked through the end of the exercise. Hang on, before you head off to chasing dreams, remember that version of you in the beginning ? I hope that by the time you get to this sentence, you’ve thought again and again and realized how privilege doesn’t lie in luxury, but in recognizing the little things that make up the big picture.  There are an endless list of things we want, desire and crave for. Unfortunately, that makes it so easy for us to ignore the endless list of things we have that millions in the world need, require and die for. Think. Again.

If your thoughts need further provoking :  

1. Water crisis 2. Hunger crisis 3. Education facts 4. Global food waste report 5. Child abuse facts 6. Violence analysis 

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