Friday, June 13, 2008

Putting It All In Perspective

There were three news stories recently that sent my head into a dizzy spin of thought. You know how sometimes you learn about something that just makes you stop and really think about your life and what happens in it, and then it makes you compare it to what happens around it?

Well the first story was about an Austrian man who kept his daughter locked in a basement for twenty-four years. During that time he raped her and fathered seven children, three of which had been raised in this basement. They were never allowed out, never educated, and had never seen sunlight. WTF?

The second story was about a lost tribe in Brazil who had been photographed for the first time ever. Never having contact with the world outside of their tribe, the shocking and almost comical picture of the painted men with their bows stretched and ready to shoot at the plane was instantly iconic. WTF? squared.

The third and final story was about a woman in Tennessee who had spent her entire life living in an iron lung. WTF? cubed!

All of these things are just mind boggling. Here we are waking up every day, complaining about how we look, what to wear, who to impress, and taking part of the same fast paced, technological, sensory overload of our day-to-day lives; and yet there are people in the world who live lives never even exposed to something as basic as sunlight.

And that lost Brazilian tribe? These people go through their lives without iPods, without fashion concerns, without cell phones, without knowledge of what happens here, or in Baghdad, or in Timbuktu!

And the lady in the iron lung? She knew about the outside world, but she never got to truly experience it, and still she says she lived a long and happy life when she never even got to enjoy something as simple as a stroll on a cool fall day.

I imagine that the human mind has a way of adapting to one's conditions, but hearing stories like these does make you stop and wonder what the heck you're complaining about. Maybe the next time I'm late to work and my boss complains about it I can say, "Well just be happy you're not captive in a basement, or stuck in an iron lung." I'll leave out the tribe because being lost in the Amazon and away from the pressures of the 9 to 5 may be exactly the reprive my boss is looking for.

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