We are all going through a lot in our lives right now with the reality (and yes, even the hype) of COVID-19. It came at a particularly bad time … when the majority of Aransas County residents and business owners were starting to see a real light at the end of the tunnel after Hurricane Harvey.
Throughout my life I’ve held on to many of the little sayings and/or analogies my father shared with me while I was growing up, or in early adulthood. One such saying is there will always be people better off than you, and people worse off, and that will never change.
I thought of that little lesson while reading the following last week:
Imagine you were born in 1900. On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. Twenty-two million people perish in that war.
Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. Fifty million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.
On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, and the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.
When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.
At 50, the Korean War starts. Five million perish.
At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. Four million people perish in that conflict.
On your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, should have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening.
When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.
Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that? When you were a kid in 1985 and didn’t think your 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was. And how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art, refined as time goes on, and enlightening like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s try and keep things in perspective.
I know, I know
Every once in while I take the easy way out in this space and just republish things I’ve read. That happens every once in a while when you write a column every week for 36-plus years.
I close with another thought-provoking writing.
Something to ponder on a pondering day
While waiting for life to get back to normal consider this ...
If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, that village would consist of
• 57 Asians
• 21 Europeans
• 14 Americans (North, Central and South)
• 8 Africans
There would be:
• 52 women and 48 men
• 30 Caucasians and 70 non-Caucasians
• 30 Christians and 70 non-Christians
• 89 heterosexuals and 11 homosexuals
• Six people would possess 59% of the wealth and they would all come from the USA
• 80 would live in poverty
• 70 would be illiterate
• 50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition
• One would be dying
• One would be being born.
• One would own a computer
• One (yes, only one) would have a university degree
If we looked at the world in this way, the need for acceptance and understanding would be obvious.
But, consider again the following:
• If you woke up this morning in good health, you have more luck than one million people, who won’t live through the week.
• If you have never experienced the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture, were not close to death from starvation, then you are better off than 500 million people.
• If you can go to your place of worship without fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than three billion people.
• If you have a full fridge, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world’s population.
• If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet, and a few coins in your purse, you are one of eight of the privileged few among the 100 people in the world.
• If your parents are still alive and still married, you’re a rare individual.
If you read this message to this point you’re extremely lucky, because someone is thinking of you and because you don’t comprise one of those two billion people who can’t read.
And so …
Work like you don’t need the money.
Love like nobody has ever hurt you.
Dance like nobody is watching.
Sing like nobody is listening.
Live as if this was paradise on Earth.
My father was right wasn’t he?
Until next week, have a good week, and count your blessings, whatever they might be.
Mike Probst can be reached at email@example.com.