Inconvenience is not a problem

One of my concerns about raising a child in a first world country is that she grows up with very little understanding for those who are not as blessed as she is.

We’ve all seen these types of kids – entitled and expecting to have things handed to them. They complain at the slightest hindrance to their day. And it is quite contagious.

I have made an effort to really know the difference between a problem and an inconvenience. I must admit, I found myself whining more since joining social media. It is easy to get caught up in the habit of whinging about everything and anything when you see it happening so much online.

It seems like the “in” thing to do is to jump into someone’s whining and say “oh yes, that is indeed annoying I feel the same way”. The line between what a problem is and what an inconvenience is becomes blurry, so much so that people start to think that a mere inconvenience is actually a problem.

No chocolate? That’s an inconvenience. No wine? That’s an inconvenience. No money to go on a holiday? That’s an inconvenience. No time to blog? That’s an inconvenience.

What’s a problem?

This is a problem.

I saw a documentary on a local TV station here where they showed a day in the life of this one particular woman. It was a documentary set in the Philippines.

The woman goes dump diving in the morning in the bins of the fast food chains around Manila. She then takes them to the slums where she lives with her paralysed husband beside the sewers and sifts through the bones of the leftovers. The bits of bones with some edible meat still hanging off them are then “cleaned” and re-cooked. She sells these meals in her little eatery in the middle of the slums in Tondo and manages to take home P70 a day ($2) – just enough for her to buy rice for herself and her husband.

Those who eat her meals know where it comes from, but then again most of them only have that one meal that they could afford to eat for that day.

For me, that’s a problem.

Got cancer? That’s a problem. No money to feed yourself or your family? That’s a problem. No clean water? That’s a problem. No place to live? That’s a problem. Your house got bombed by a missile? That’s a problem.

When I’m on the verge of a whine, I try to catch myself and think about what I’m whining about. I don’t want to be a bad example to my daughter. I don’t want her to be in the habit of whining. I want to be able to teach her the difference between a problem and an inconvenience.

One day, I’ll show her the faces of the people with real problems.

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