Editorial - Poor me!

Dianne St. Jean
“Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.” Helen Keller

The above quote by Helen Keller says it all. How often do we get caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves or frustrated when things either don’t go our way, or we can’t get what we want?
In some respects we may be implanting that mentality into ourselves or others without realizing it.
I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up one of the most popular “mantras” in our home and others’ was “poor you”.
The statement is meant to be an expression of pity, and to make whoever or whatever feel better about a situation, whether it be child or even pet.
I wonder, though, if that seemingly little statement doesn’t implant or spark in us a certain sense of entitlement or selfishness, or, in the least, a lack of gratitude.
It’s not wrong to want good things in life, especially those that remove the necessity of hardship. I like my washing machine, and would not want to return to days when the “normal” way to wash clothes was in a basin or barrel with a scrubbing board; and while I might want to complain about the hydro bill (don’t get me wrong – hydro is expensive), I’d rather have the option of flicking a switch to get heat and light rather than reverting back to older methods using candle flame and fire.
Yet at times we either forget or are unaware of the fact that our lifestyle here in the western world is not the rule, but the exception.
According to statistics by international agencies such as UNICEF almost half the world - that is, over three billion people - live on less than $2.50 a day, and at least - let me say it again - at least - 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
This doesn’t mean not spending $10 in a day on things such as lunch or coffee, that calculation takes into account the total cost of living including food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and every other human need; and, more than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty. All this while there is the potential for sufficient resources - resources that are either not developed or exploited, or are exploited, controlled, and distributed unequally by those in power.
Fortunately for us, we live in a part of the world that provides us with more options and opportunities than usual. Some of those, however, we must discover or create ourselves.
Against all odds and attitudes of then-known medical science and psychology about those who are deaf-blind, Helen Keller was able to overcome seemingly impossible barriers and went on to become a successful author, political activist, and lecturer. She was also the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. I don’t know about you, but when I read that I think, what’s stopping me?
We have the option of either letting setbacks and frustrations bring us down, or finding ways to overcome.
In other words, our self-indoctrinating mantra can either be “Poor me!” or “Not me!”