Over the past year, I had the opportunity to visit 30 states and 2 countries. I walked the streets of some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the nation, worshiped at a church in a third world country, and moved to an inner-city neighborhood, where I live amongst the poor and working class.
I experienced many different cultures, but my biggest takeaway was the reality that we’re not as different as we might think. When we strip away the facades, we all want essentially the same things in life. We long to be loved, to feel that our lives matter, for a sense of community, safety, and security. We also possess far more than we realize. We can get caught up in feeling sorry for the family who lives in a $25,000 house in my neighborhood when we see the million-dollar homes overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, but even in the poorest neighborhoods, most Americans have a roof over their heads, four walls, clean water, air conditioning, heat, beds, showers, clothes to wear, and indoor plumbing, while there are still countless people overseas who do not have these things, which are so simple to us that we tend to take them for granted.
I am in no way trying to minimize the struggle of the poor, who can experience great difficulty in acquiring the things mentioned above. I just want to point out that even the poorest people in America are typically far better off than those in many other countries. I forget the extract statistic, but the vast majority of Americans are in somewhere around the top 5-10% of the world population. That means that even our poorest citizens have access to more resources than 90% of the world population.
In a culture that propagates the illusion of the American Dream, it’s easy to lose sight of the simple things. It’s easy to get upset when your air conditioning goes out, not realizing that there are people who don’t even know what that is. It’s easy to get frustrated with road construction, forgetting that not everyone has a car and an expansive network of roads to drive on. It’s easy to end up thinking that we deserve more and better, when halfway across the world, someone is praying for the things we don’t even realize we’ve received.