First World Problems

South Sudan, Photo by Moussa Idrissi on Pexels.com

I have a friend who complains about her life and all its frustrations and then ends with “It’s a first world problem”.

My dermatologist told me to buy a specific type of sunscreen. I had to go to three stores and finally found something that was on the list. A lot of shelves needed re-stocking. It’s a first world problem.

My TV stopped working and I had to do all kinds of research on the internet to find one that had the best reviews. And then it was out of stock. First world problem.

People in the USA take so much for granted. Women fought for a long time to get the freedoms they had and then they became complacent. Or did they? I recently read an article by Mary Pipher – “How I Build a Good Day When I’m Full of Despair at the World”. She is a clinical psychologist and author. In the article she states: As we are pummeled with daily traumatic information, more and more of us shut down emotionally. I can hear the flatness in the newscasters’ voices, see the stress in my friends’ faces and sense it in the tension of the workers at my sister’s nursing home. We are not apathetic; we are overwhelmed. Our symptoms resemble those of combat fatigue.

I know what she means. We are overloaded with information we can’t process. We can’t do anything about. We volunteer, we donate money, we despair. But I never feel like I really accomplish anything or make any kind of significant impact. My despair is for others. My life is ok. I have what I need. I can turn off the news. I can have drinks with friends. I can visit my state parks. I can easily shut it all out.

But it seeps in. They overturn Roe v. Wade. An earthquake in Afghanistan kills 1,000 people. The war in Ukraine rages on. Eighteen people found dead in a truck after being smuggled across the border in Texas. Guns guns guns. The only good thing that happened this week was Cassidy Hutchinson.

The worst thing I saw was a newscast about the famine in Southern Sudan. The people are starving because they are not getting their usual grain from Ukraine. My father always told me there were no food shortages in the world, only politics. He would know since he spent his whole life trying to feed people. So even though Southern Sudan is not part of the “first world”, it really is a first world problem. Or it should be. Why is Ukraine their only source of food? Why should they starve to death because Putin is an idiot?

I always hope that recent events will motivate people to care about what is happening in the world but there are always those who see things differently. Those who do not think women should have a voice. Those who think guns are good for all. Those who don’t want people of color anywhere near them. Is it political too? Lack of education? Greed? Hopelessness?

There a plenty of days when all I do is quote Gertrude….

There ain’t no answer.
There ain’t going to be an answer.
There never has been an answer.
That’s the answer.
Gertrude Stein

And there are days when I hope she is wrong…