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I was sitting in one of the local coffee houses recently – the one that ought to be named “Fivebucks” – and was the unwilling audience of a small group of people who were discussing their woes.
Apparently all of these folks have special children. I don’t mean special in the connotation of “Special Olympics”, but in the sense that “my goodness, my children are so special”.
And, the gist of the conversation was that all of these special children and their parents have substantial problems. Thor, the football star isn’t getting enough playing time. Sally, the cheerleader was not selected for homecoming court. Henry only scored 1380 on his SAT, and is destined to attend an in state college rather than one of the Ivy Leagues.
Thor’s father was screwed out of his promotion by office politics and now the European vacation is off. Henry’s mother’s Botox injections are not covered by her health insurance, and Sally’s father is miffed because the club chose this week to aerate the greens.
Contrast this with the conversations I recently listened to in a factory lunch room.
Bill doesn’t know how he is going to get to work because his car needs a transmission and he has no way to pay for it. Betty was late for work because she had to go to the court house to get a protective order against her ex-husband who beat the crap out of her last night. Tom wonders why despite his best efforts, his daughter has been arrested for the third time for drug possession.
And as substantially different as these conversations are, they all pale in comparison to some parts of the world where parents worry that soldiers or rebels will break into their homes and gang rape their wives and daughters; or that there is a very real chance that their children may starve to death.
Even in some neighborhoods in the United States, parents know there is a 20% - 30% chance their sons will be shot walking home from school, or for standing on the wrong corner, or simply for being out in the open when the shooting starts.
The concern about our problems may be summed up with the old parable – “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet"
We all have what we call First World problems. We each ought to be thankful that we don’t have Third World problems. Thankful that our children are not hungry, but knowing that if they were, there are services to make sure they get fed. We should be thankful that despite occasional aberrations that we are generally safe in our homes. Thankful that no matter how screwed up our political leaders, we are secure in the knowledge that if we wanted to, we could kick them out.
So please, kiss that sometimes insensitive spouse; hug those sometimes frustrating kids; keep your eye out for the welfare for that sometimes annoying neighbor; and be glad that we have the chance to live in Oldham County.
By Mike DiGiuro