24 July 2014

Things to be thankful for

I am known to have the occasional moan or rant about some things and I suppose it is only human nature that we do. However, there are times when things pull you up short and make you realise there is so much to be thankful for. We can often think we are hard done by but compared to the past or other parts of the world today, we dont know we are born.

I am lucky to live in a civilised country where there are rules and a code of acceptable conduct. We live in relative harmony with one another and our neighbouring countries, we have more than adequate amounts of money (even though some will argue they don't) to afford the basics in life and we have a health system that cares for us into old age. 

Looking around the world as it is now, with vile people shooting down planeloads of innocent people or lobbing bombs over borders out of greed or malice or religion, it makes me so thankful that I am physically safe and not cowering in a corner waiting for harm to come to me. I can go about my business without fear of being outspoken,  I cannot be arrested for thinking  things I am not told to think, or I shall not be imprisoned for my views or bombed out of my home because of my religion. There are so many places in this world (Ukraine, Syria, Israel and Palestine, just to name a handful) where that cannot be said.

I am not rich but I am not poor. I do get so annoyed at headlines that say the young can't get on the housing ladder or someone can't survive on £90 a week. My parents were married for over 8 years before they got their first house. Greg and I took out our first mortgage on a flat in 1980 and were being charged 16% (I repeat 16%) interest on repayments. Things were far far worse in the past, but now everyone EXPECTS things given to them on a plate. They want the latest this or that without saving up for things. Sometimes saving up brings more pleasure when you can afford luxuries. They want their own space as a right with TVs the size of the entire wall, a completely kitted-out kitchen and a new car. I have never owned a new car in my life (in any case I consider brand new cars a waste of money - drive them out of the showroom and you have already lost £2,000). I regard TVs or washing machines or cars as luxuries, by the way and don't get me started on people who spend all day playing with their electronic toys and yet claim they have no money. I always maintain I could live quite happily with a weekly shopping bill of £10 and still have change at the end of the week. An egg or tin of beans on toast or a jam sandwich every day would keep me going well for even less than £10, if I had to manage on that. In any case, I don't crave lobster or steak or champagne. I am not one to buy expensive goods, massive wall-mounted TVs, leather sofas, latest this or that and the like. My tastes and needs are quite simple. I don't travel hardly at all and I am happy with my own company.  It sounds like I live the life of a hermit or a scrooge. Far from it, I enjoy life and don't need to spend a lot to get it. I know we are all different, but I sometimes think we all want more and more and don't stop to think about what we really want. Personally, I am happy as long as I know my loved ones are safe, happy and healthy. Anything else is quite frankly extra, a bonus, superfluous even.
I am grateful (and aware of the hypocrisy) for the small amount of technology I have in my house. It has meant I can keep in touch with Kay on a different continent and learn that she is well and happy pursuing her dreams of helping other people less fortunate than us. (More so than my poor parents who waved me off to Germany for a year in the early 1970s, not expecting to hear another peep from me except by snail mail. How they managed to keep their sanity in the absence of any mobiles and internet, I shall never know. I was cut-off from Kay last weekend for about 24 hours and was in bits in case she had been mugged, raped or buried in a ditch somewhere in the middle of Tanzania.) Today we had an hour's facebook conversation where she was able to tell me how she is, about friends she is making, the work she is doing in Tanzania and how happy she is. Following her successful climb to the top of Kilimanjaro last week, she is now safely ensconced in a hostel with other medics and working on a children's ward.

I am thankful for our National Health Service. We moan a lot about it but without it, what would life be like? Kay has been regaling me with stories of 4-month old babies weighing only 3lbs who have HIV or rickets or TB or diarrhoea or malaria and one died last night. Children are brought to that hospital far too late because of the distance from the hospital or lack of money to pay for medicine. They do not have the vaccinations or health care to support young life and so their conditions are advanced and beyond saving. It is unthinkable in this day and age that this can still be happening. I am pleased to say that when the call came at the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last night to text 70333 and donate money to UNICEF to help dying or uneducated children, I was more than happy to donate what I could spare (and more) to save that baby and others, although sadly I discovered this morning it was too late for that little mite in Tanzania. I do hope though that many more will benefit from the UNICEF funds collected and the more wealthy will continue to support the cause. If we think life is hard, just think how much harder it is for them. 

I am thankful that my scar on my face is healing and that I am able to have medical help at my fingertips when I need it. My daughter is happy, my mother is well. What more can you really ask? For those in the world that are less fortunate, I hope and pray that soon you too can be thankful like me. For that to happen, we who have a decent living should stop and think more of others less fortunate and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  What if the roles were reversed? Wouldn't you want someone to do something about it?


K Ville said...

yes, yes I would.

Ellen said...

With so many dreadful happenings takings place in the world right now, your post is a timely reminder for us to look about and see how lucky we are. You must be very proud of Kay reaching out and actually helping those less fortunate.

the veg artist said...

You are so right here.
On the issue of pointless spending, like many others of our generation there were things I DIDN'T spend my hard-earned cash on:
endless clubbing / gallons of cheap booze / trips abroad to facilitate / cheap clothes to wear while doing so / gadgets, as you mention / 'beauty' gadgets / treatments, serums and cosmetics at ridiculous prices/ fake tans / anything that told us "We're worth it" ........ if I don't stop, I could probably carry on all day.
Seriously, though, young people need to be aware that previous generations saved hard to get on the housing ladder, and it makes me cross when they seem to begrudge us oldies.
Compared to some other countries we have unlimited freedom, opportunities - and safety. I, like you, am very grateful.