The lights are on many houses and in the distance, snow can be seen on the mountains and that holiday feeling is in the air. While Christmas draws near, the world around us can steal away some of the very special feelings that the holidays conjure up.
The media is abundant with news that is worrisome and at times shocking. The “fiscal cliff”: I’m pretty sure that I went over my fiscal cliff quite some time ago, right around the time my daughter decided to attend an out of state college.
Still, I know that the “fiscal cliff” is on the minds of many Americans, especially older Americans on fixed incomes. The news of another mass shooting is shocking and practically unbelievable. The families and friends of the innocent victims will pass through Christmas in agonizing pain or numbness and their holiday season will never be the same. Still, with all the bad news and grim stories, most of us have a great deal to be thankful for.
In a couple of weeks my daughter will be going to Africa for a time to teach in a school there and to support the work of an American philanthropic effort. I have been looking at the conditions where she is going and they are desperate. There is little running water, no sewer systems, medications are lacking and schools are in great need. Many live in old corrugated roofing huts and walk about in bare feet even amongst the ruble, trash and sewage.
The huts are built on a garbage dump. My overview of this desperate part of the world has given me pause to consider how lucky many of us are. Just over nine percent of the world’s population owns their own car. About 40 percent of the world’s millions of cars are owned by Americans and the other 60 percent is distributed around the rest of the world. Imagine how different your life would be without a car, especially living where we do. Not only do many Americans have a car, many have two or three in the family. Just over 10 percent of the world’s populations are squatters and many millions more live in what we consider substandard conditions.
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