A few weeks ago, one of our great nephews posed a question to us. We were enjoying a family swim party — one of dozens we’ve had over the past years — and with all the curiosity and innocence of a typical 9-year-old, he asked us, “Are you rich?”
With a little questioning of our own, we quickly determined that he was looking at our large house and the swimming pool and deduced that we must be wealthy. The truth is, we love our large (though drafty), historic home and enjoy the pool that has been here for four generations.
Both Matt and I enjoyed successful careers, and while not necessarily lucrative, we were comfortable. We were able to maintain and improve our home, put a child through college, and have a little nest egg. Those of you who live in older homes will appreciate the fact that there’s rarely a month that passes without that nest egg being used to fix or upgrade some part of the house.
We readily answered our nephew that indeed, we consider ourselves rich beyond imagining. But not because our house is large, or because we have a pool. We feel rich because we are surrounded by family we love and respect and friends who have become, over the years, as much are family as though by birth.
Coincidentally, I saw a Facebook post that same day called “you know you’re alright.” It said, if “you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep you are richer than 75 percent of the world.” Three quarters of the world do not have the clothes, food, and bed that we often take for granted!
The post went on to say that if you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change, you are among the top 8 percent of the world’s wealthy. I know that we are not among those considered rich in America, but compared to the world’s population, we are in the top 8 percent, just because we have a little savings account.
Honestly, it is mind-boggling.
Then the article included a grave reminder that if you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week.
A more startling statistic was this: If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation you are luckier than 500 million people. I confess, I cannot even imagine that many people who are alive and suffering.
A final number said that if you can read this message you are more fortunate than three billion people in the world who cannot read it at all.
So, yes, I guess it’s safe to say I’m rich beyond belief. America is an amazing place to live and I am always grateful to have been born in this wonderful country of freedoms.
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.