Perspective on Living in “Bad Times”
Turn on the news on any given channel at any time during the day and more than likely you will hear something of the “hard times” befalling Americans as we continue to struggle through was has finally been recognized as a recession. As the holidays are upon us, pundits lament how holiday sales are down and people are modestly spending on one another. However, perhaps we Americans should be putting in perspective what we view as “tough times.”
Since August in Zimbabwe, 484 people have died from a cholera outbreak with over 11,700 more cases reported. In an area plagued by war and economic degradation, the sanitation and water system has collapsed, leaving thousands without access to clean water. Although easily treated, hospitals and clinics are faced with many stricken with the disease and no supplies to treat it with.
As we sit worrying about the effects of facebook on our lives and if we can afford our cellphone bill, we should keep in mind that we, as a collective, comfortable middle class, are more often than not engaging in what Thorstein Veblen categorized as “conspicuous consumption.” Where we live to outlook, outspend, and outshow others around us. Our financial crisis needs to be placed in perspective. Alas for others in various parts of the world, consumption for survival is the only thing on one’s mind. So perhaps when you update your facebook status before bed tonight, remember that someone’s status in Zimbabwe is seeking clean water and refuge.
BBC Report on crisis in Zimbabwe