Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Do You Know How Lucky You Are?

"Do you know how lucky you are?"

He just sat there. His father stood over him. A look of disbelief on his face. The boy didn't know how to answer. He was stunned by the question. He searched his mind trying to figure out how they even got to this point.

"Do you even realize how fortunate you are?"

The boy had been complaining. He thought the dinner they'd just finished was "boring."

The kitchen table still uncleared had plates with the remnants of the meal. A baking pan had some chicken that would become the father's lunch the next day. There was some leftover rice and asparagus. The father, John, started clearing the table obviously upset with his son, Joey.

John didn't always have full meals when he was a boy.  He started out in very humble conditions. His mother did not always make the best choices for herself and her kids. The choices were immature and selfish at times. These choices often left John and his siblings in less than ideal situations.

Situations that innocent children should not be left in.

But, those days were behind John now. He worked hard and made a life for himself. He credits his success to hard work and being lucky. John always felt lucky.  Which was why he was so upset with his son, Joey.

Joey was complaining like a lot of people do when they focus on what they don't have instead of what they do have.

"Do you know how lucky you are to have been born in the United States and not somewhere else? Less than 5% of the people on this planet live here," John stated. 

John reached into his pocket and pulled out a worn leather wallet and held it out in front of himself showing it to Joey as he continued, "We are the most wealthy nation on earth.  People in the United States are in the top 6% of the world's population when it comes to money(1). We have more freedom and safety than any other country in the world! How lucky is that?"

"God put you here. You could have been born anywhere. You could have been born in a poor and brutal country in Africa. But, you are here and that is a blessing you should be thankful for everyday."

"It is an opportunity you should take advantage of everyday. There are people who risk their lives to get into this country to get that opportunity."

Joey sat up a little bit. It was hard for him to relate to this concept. He'd never known anything else. How could make any comparison? Why would he?

John interrupted Joey's thinking with another question, "Do you know how lucky you are to be born healthy?" But, before Joey could answer John did.

"Every 4 ½ minutes, a baby is born with a birth defect in the United States. That means nearly 120,000 babies are affected by birth defects each year(2). That's a lot."

John's eyes started staring out at nothing as he said, "I feel bad for parents that have to deal with that." His gaze returned and he focused in on Joey.

Joey could sense his father's gratitude.

Joey was a healthy kid in every respect and John knew how lucky he was to have that. But, Joey didn't. 

It's hard for anyone to appreciate what they have when they are always focused on what they don't have. It is even harder for someone to appreciate what they have when they've never been without.

The dinner table was cleared. But, Joey's mind wasn't. The question lingered in his mind as he drifted off to sleep that night.

"Do you know how lucky you are?

(1) - "List of countries by distribution of wealth." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 29 Apr. 2017. Web. 2 Jul. 2017

(2) - "Facts about Birth Defects." 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Update on Overall Prevalence of Major Birth Defects--Atlanta, Georgia, 1978-2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2008;57(1):1-5.

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