Gratitude, Inequality & Giving Back

I want to take a second to talk about gratitude.

Not because it’s trendy.

Not because everyone else is talking about it… hey, it’s not even Thanksgiving right now.

And, not the kind of gratitude that’s all talk and no feeling. The buzz word.

I’m talking about the deep feeling, a profound appreciation in recognition of what I have. A feeling of amazement and real, raw awe for the luck I have had in my life – and my birth. The luck for the things over which I had no control which allow me to have everything I have now – the good and the challenging.

It’s so strong I can feel it in my heart. So strong that I am compelled to write about it.

Why?

Well, not because I want to brag. Rather, because I’m also feeling uneasy because at the same time that I am realizing this immense gratitude, I’m also realizing and questioning the immense inequalities in the world.

You see, I’ve been watching a bunch of episodes of Vice News (and others) recently. All kinds of stories. All sorts of unfortunate things. Sad things. Things I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Things that are scary. Things that are going on in the world. War. Destruction. Human trafficking. Poverty. Crime. Economic distress. Broken homes. Drug abuse. Murder.

I watch it. I’m speechless when it ends.

Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes scared. Sometimes angry. (Which is usually why I don’t watch a lot of “news.”)

But now, once I’ve started to process it and move to the next stage after those feelings. I start to question.

I wonder. I don’t understand. It makes me wonder why we can’t just get along. (I know, it’s probably naive, but honestly, why do we do these things to each other?)

But, it makes me feel that powerful feeling of gratitude for my life.

It makes me realize that, while my life may not be perfect – I could stand to lose 20 lbs; my business may not be where I want it to be; my finances may be in disorder; I may be in a lot of debt; I may not live where I prefer to live; I sometimes struggle with a lack of confidence; I may not have the most interesting social life…

…I do have a roof over my head. I do have access to clean water and healthy food. I do have work and skills and an able body. I do have clothes (and enough to call it a “wardrobe”). I have shoes. I have a gym membership. I come from a an upbringing with loving parents. I have people that support me (even if they don’t quite understand my vision). I have a reliable car. I graduated from college. I have traveled and lived internationally. I have 24/7 Internet access. I have a passion and drive for learning and excelling. I have a drive for introspection and reflection. I don’t live in constant fear for my life.

In short, I have access to resources that allow me to “follow my passion” and create the life I want to have.

And while I do believe, for the most part, that it’s our own responsibility’s to rise out from our circumstances and make things better, I now recognize the massive privilege that I have which puts me in a place way ahead of many out there, in this pursuit.

So many people don’t have access to the basic necessities for life, itself. Food. Water. Shelter. Shoes.

And here we are, complaining that our coffee isn’t sweet enough. (Or whatever we complain about here.)

All these stories have made me question. Why me?!

How did I get so lucky to be born into the place I was born into?

Don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t perfect – nothing’s perfect, and there are things I want to change – but somehow, I was lucky enough to wind up here.

I’m so glad that I did and that I was.

But it also makes me mad. At the state of things in the world. And the inequality that people are born into by no fault of their own.

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t pretend to have all the answers.

But, I need to do something.

I need to do more than write about gratitude. That doesn’t help the people who want to make things better, but are experiencing crippling challenges and lack of the skills and resources necessary to improve their situations.

So, what will I do about it? How will I help> How will I express my gratitude?

By giving back… so that, hopefully, one day, the world may perhaps be more of a level playing field.

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