Yesterday, while doing a cardio workout at 24 Hour Fitness, I watched a news segment on the horrendous conditions in Pakistan. The floods, as everyone knows, killed untold numbers of people and left the survivors homeless, hungry and without drinkable water. Now, the Pakistanis are faced with a second wave of devastation. Hundreds of people are dying of dysentery and starvation, particularly children, because the relief effort is falling short of providing shelter, food and clean water. I watched a woman holding her dying son. He was three years old and weighed 10 pounds. I thought to myself, “How can the world, with all of its resources and money, let this happen?”
Following this special report, CNN went to break, and I watched a commercial about some revolutionary skin care product that can take 10 years off your appearance. The commercial showed several stunning models with perfect hair and perfect skin. Watching this commercial, it occurred to me that most Americans—including myself—haven’t a clue what hardship really is. Granted, Katrina, West Coast wildfires, hurricanes and tornados have affected hundreds of people, but still, the majority of Americans live a cozy, abundant life, insulated from the realities of poverty and disease.
More stunning than this contrast between the western world and countries like Pakistan, Sudan, and Somalia was the fact that our society has become utterly superficial. We are spoiled rotten and addicted to a pampered lifestyle. We are obsessed with text messaging, reality TV, fancy cars, designer clothing, gourmet foods, and every convenience known to humankind. I’m not suggesting that we should sell all our worldly belongings and live in grass huts; we are all entitled to enjoy the fruits of our labors. But isn’t there something terribly wrong with a world where a basketball player can earn 30 million dollars a year shooting hoops, while people are dying of starvation and preventable diseases?
I’m not a bleeding heart liberal. Honestly. In fact, I believe in capitalism and a free market. However, shouldn’t the world live by a standard of conservative principles, benevolence, and social consciousness? Shouldn’t we all do our part to make this a better world? Shouldn’t the rich help the poor? Shouldn’t the healthy help the sick? Shouldn’t we all make a difference no matter how small the contribution?
Perhaps it’s time for all of us to look at our reflection in the mirror and ask ourselves if we truly like what we see.