Does It Matter What Is Happening Elsewhere?


It’s easy to become consumed by what is happening close to you. Quite often, all that I think about is providing for my family and making sure we have food, shelter, clothing, and the ability to lead a productive and happy life. This takes a lot of effort and focus and there is no guarantee that in the future we’ll continue to be provided for. Nevertheless, as I read the news and seek to understand events in the world, I’m disturbed by the situation it appears many other people are in.

CNN recently posted an article about the millions of refugees in the world leaving their homes. A refugee is simply someone who has had to flee their home. Most of this news takes place in the Middle East over by Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Syria. When I see continued suffering, violence, starvation, and extreme struggle, I wonder why I am in the situation I am in. Why do I have a nice home, stable job, food, and clothing. Is it just RANDOM chance? Is it that I just happened to be born in the U.S. to a middle class family and it is what it is?

I don’t know the answer to this. Perhaps we are all predestined to be put on the earth where we are in a cosmic way we don’t comprehend, but individually are in a situation that we each need. Or it really is just random and it is up to the individual to best cope with the situation. Either way, when I see people suffering and I am able to relax and be comfortable, it makes me uneasy. What is even more unsettling is that it is still easy for me to just take it easy and not become engaged in helping those less fortunate. This is middle class apathy at its finest.

What Can You Do?

I look at what you and I can do and individually, it’s probably not going to make a large dent in the challenges the world faces. Because each person first has to focus on their own survival and growth, it becomes difficult to take time out to be engaged in the worlds problems. Does it matter though? When someone is suffering half-way across the world, can I really do anything about it? Could I potentially try my whole life and not make one bit of a difference to that person? It is quite possible this is true.

In trying to determine if it matters, try to put yourself in the situation of a starving refugee having to flee your home. Would that not cause you to be humbled and earnestly hope for rescue? If you were in that position, wouldn’t it brighten your day to know that someone was actively engaged in helping your situation? I can’t imagine what it would be like to be forced from my home and to feel like there was nothing I could do about it and nobody that was going to try and do anything about it.

I believe there are some simple things that we can each do in our families to make a difference. Just imagine if every family in the United States alone adopted this philosophy:

  • Become actively engaged in the events unfolding in our world.
  • Instead of complaining about government and other problems, seek out solutions.
  • Adopt a monetary philosophy of growing and investing as opposed to spending.

When a teenager spends their entire pay check at the mall, or cares only about them self, and complains about their government without trying to live in a solution oriented way, it is likely their parents did the same thing. And so will their kids. And the cycle will likely repeat itself. We act on what we know. It is impossible without a shift in philosophy to become engaged in an activity outside our current understanding.

What challenges must be overcome?

Even with many already taking an active interest in the problems of the world, there is the other side of the coin. Lets say we do end up solving the problems of conflict and refugees. Let’s say we solve the energy crisis. Let’s say we no longer have terrorism. What happens when everything is easy and comfortable? It becomes very easy to take it for granted. This is where apathy occurs. No matter where in the world someone lives, there is the inertia to overcome of having a comfortable life. If we give a comfortable life to someone, will they then eventually deteriorate and the same problems start to reoccur?

I don’t know the answer here. I know that I hear news about terrible things and struggling situations and wonder if it is all just part of life and up to each of us individually to handle it. I also know there are plenty of good people and organizations that are actively engaged in trying to solve these problems as well. Perhaps joining one of these groups, or finding out more through them would make sense. Either way, I just wanted to write about this and stir up some thought.

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