Friday, May 31, 2013

How Many Birthdays Do I Get


"Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life." -Robert Louis Stevenson

An Op-Ed article appeared in the Des Moines Sunday Register, back on February 2, 2003. I happened upon it while writing an article to celebrate my wife's birthday. It tells the story of a young boy having lost his parents in the civil war within Sierra Leone.

Gibrila (jeh bril’ a) was orphaned at age 2 and adopted by a man and his wife from Des Moines, Iowa. It is a touching story that brings to mind the goodness of people but also the wide expanse that exists between what we have versus what others do not. The story explains the catch phrase in the title of this article, but it makes me wonder, "how many birthdays do I get to have" in life?

As we live our lives from day-to-day here in the United States and many developed countries around the world, we forget how good we actually have things. I will certainly agree that there are large disparities in income levels and many people here in the U.S.A. do not have things so great. But for the most part, things are pretty decent here. The availability of a roof over our heads, something to eat once or twice a day and clothing to cover our backs is plentiful.

We have nice streets, running water, gas stations filled with thousands of items to purchase abound on nearly every street corner. Huge malls are filled to the brim with items of every kind that you might want to purchase. Fast food and other dining establishments serving large plates of food abound. Multiple choices of colors, textures, tastes, brands and sizes can be almost mind-boggling.

Now go to a developing or under-developed country. Travel where choice is limited, where availability of things we take for granted are nearly non-existent. Find clean drinking water, a place to purchase new shoes or a safe place to lay your head down at night. You will quickly find how much we have to choose from right here where we live. You will quickly find that we have it pretty good right here where we live.

When a young boy from Sierra Leone asks "how many birthdays do I get", maybe it is time we ask that of ourselves. Maybe we should be more thankful for what we have. Maybe, just maybe, we should simply be thankful.

Stay inspired my friends and be thankful.



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