I have seen on TV lately the suffering of so many people outside of the United States. It is a devastating picture of what hurricanes can bring, what failed governments do not do, and what destruction wars bring.
As I sit at my desk, and look at what’s on it, I am so grateful for the hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps even millions, who made my life so efficient and so pleasant. I had not thought about what I have available to me until I recently saw a documentary on how corrupt the systems can be for the food we eat, and for the water we drink. That’s another story, but for now let me make clear how thankful I am for what I have so available to me.
First and foremost is the light on my desk. It indicates that I have regular electric power that gives me light whenever I want it. That power runs my telephone, a phone that allows people around the world to reach me and allows me to reach them. That phone is a lifeline, and I have had the same phone number for decades, so hundreds of people have it.
Next is my computer, a fantastic device that brings me the news, an encyclopedia of knowledge, the ability to write this article and print it, the ability to buy items from around the world, and hundreds of other things. I can talk to people around the world and see them without spending a penny. As a child, all this was described to me as a fantasy, but now it is real.
Also on my desk are two speakers connected to a sound system that allows me to play the music I own, while my computer allows me to find almost any music available and play it through my computer to my speakers. I tested this out with my grandson, gave him some remote music and he found it and played it for me in less than a minute.
I have a few books on my desk, written by very famous people. I can buy with my computer almost any book available in print. I have the resources of some of smartest people in the world available to me at my fingertips.
I have access to the major financial markets in the world, including the Dow stocks, the stocks that make up the S&P 500, and the stocks on the NASDAQ. I can stay up to the minute on where the stock market is heading, and I can see the price of any particular stock over the past five years or even longer. I have available press releases and financial information written by experts on almost any stock or fund I am interested in.
Also on my desk are pencils and pens, and paper and pads, that make it easy for me to write. I have notebooks, graph paper, scotch tape, a stapler and a clock to keep me organized. I have a calendar to keep track of my appointments and a list of every member of my synagogue with their address, phone number and email address.
In addition to all that, I have perhaps the most useful device of all, my cell phone, sitting on the desk right next to me. That device goes with me whenever I go and allows people to reach me in my car, in a restaurant, and even in the bathroom. It will tell me how to get where I want to go in the most efficient way possible, and it will let me call anyone I know that gave me their phone number.
I am grateful for all of this because I remember growing up that my family did not have a phone at first, and then a phone with a party line (several families using the same cable line), no computer, only the U.S. mail, no directory of people except for the entire AT&T telephone directory in the city, and no way to buy anything except to go directly to the store, which might not have what I wanted.
And by the way, I left something out, the key to my car hanging on my light. My family didn’t have a car until I was about 12 years old, and it doesn’t compare to what I drive now. I once asked my aunt, who lived to the age of 95, what was the most important change in her life, and she said it was indoor toilets instead of an outhouse.
The bottom line: Be grateful for what you have; it’s a lot more than most of the world.