In spite of it all, and most of all in spite of ourselves, we have a lot for which to be thankful this year.
Forget the controversial elections, the hurricanes and the mass shootings. If you were born in America, you won the lottery. Just look around. We grouse about first-world problems every day while the world struggles with hunger and poverty and on-going wars.
The best estimate on the world population is 7.5 billion people. Of those, 1.9 million live in Nebraska. You can probably guess how many people live in your community and you most likely know how many people live in your house. Helps you to put all this in perspective.
We complain that there just aren’t enough decent restaurants.
Yet, one in nine people in the world face hunger or what the experts call food insecurity – not knowing if they are going to have enough to eat. One in six people in America face hunger. The hunger rate in Nebraska is 14.8 percent of the 1.9 million population.
Have you ever served food at a mission or in a homeless shelter? It’s a rewarding experience that will definitely make you thankful. Gifting groceries or even donating money to the organizations that do will also make you thankful.
We complain that we can’t buy designer jeans for the kids.
Yet, worldwide, three billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. That’s poverty. An estimated 80 percent of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day. In Nebraska, 12.6 percent of the population is estimated to live in poverty. That’s about 237,000 fellow Nebraskans.
We complain that Suzy dropped her smartphone and cracked the screen. And our internet is too slow.
Yet, one billion people in the world don’t have mobile phones – in some cases no phone at all. In America, six out of seven people have a mobile device. One-third of the world’s population cannot access the Internet. That’s 2.3 billion people who can’t “Google” something, waste time on Facebook or order from Amazon. Imagine that.
We complain that there’s nothing good on TV.
Yet, only 79 percent of people in the developed world have access to television and just 69 percent of people in developing nations know this thing we call TV. In the United States of America, 96.7 percent of households have at least one TV set.
We complain that the new Nebraska license plates are boring.
That’s a good thing because it means we have cars and trucks. There are an estimated one billion cars in the world for those 7.5 billion people. The United States has 239.8 million cars. China is second with 78 million cars.
The bottom line here, tomorrow (November 23) is Thanksgiving. If you have: food on the table; more than $10 a day for living expenses; a mobile phone; internet access and a TV set; in the eyes of the world you have a lot for which to be thankful.
So, let’s get over ourselves and count our blessings!
J.L. Schmidt is the statehouse correspondent for the Nebraska Press Associations. He has been covering Nebraska government and politics since 1979. He has a turkey in the oven, two cars in the garage, two TV sets, a smart phone and high-speed internet. He is thankful every day.