Among the Seven Billion

If you’ve flipped on a light switch in the comfort of your home, and are sitting before a computer screen with the ability to read these words, you are among the lucky. Relative to the majority of humanity, you are in the top-tier of the fortunate.

This morning I’ve got statistics rolling around in my head, mulling over everything.

Facts like these:

Almost half the world – over 3 billion people – live on less than $1000 a year. (Think about this in relation to your own monthly income).

80% of humanity lives on less than $3700 a year.

Of the 2.2 billion children in the world, 1 billion live in poverty.

2.6 billion people on this planet lack basic sanitation.

1.1 billion have inadequate access to water.

As I sit here, connected to the internet, sipping my organic coffee and conjuring words to share on the laptop that costs nearly as much as the annual lifeblood of over half the planet, I feel paralyzed. These numbers dig into me with a post-blissfully-ignorant-reality-bite.

Of course, one response could be gratitude. Count the blessings I’ve (somehow) luckily landed, that gives me more than the basics to live. Though I’ve had what I thought to be lean times – times when I struggled to make the rent or buy food – I’ve always had clean water, shelter, a war-free zone in which to live, and the ability to read and write.

As an artist, creatively expressing myself, I’m left to question what work matters. In light of these statistics, what reflections of my small struggles or triumphs mean a thing, when half of the world’s children are living in squalor?

In this information age, this world accounting is readily available for anyone that cares to learn. But there was a time when the knowledge wasn’t so instantly available. People lived and reflected upon the world within their physical view. Artists drew upon the influences of their immediate surroundings.

In the time of Georgia O’Keefe, did she question whether to bother painting bones and blooms, when so many on the planet were starving? And if the knowledge would have second-guessed her to the point of stopping, then the world would not have had Calla Lilies on Red.

I’m far from the artistry of O’Keefe. Not even close to that beauty that I am so glad was shared. No, I’m just a privileged American woman who takes the extravagances of her life for granted. A human consuming more than my fair share. An artist that wants to express herself in a way that serves the betterment of all, but is not sure how.

I’m a person, who, this morning, just can’t do more than try to fathom the number one billion. Try to perceive myself among the seven. Someone with the luxury to berate my blessings while wondering what to do.

courtesy of www.postersofsantafe.com
courtesy of http://www.postersofsantafe.com

6 Comments

  1. It is indeed a hard reality.
    But you have at least for a part to take into account proportionality.
    As I was horrified to see Indian worker earning a good living with 40$ per month salary, I remembered that by both earning that the couple had a comfortable life for the country!
    It made me realize that even if they earn less than us, some are ok!
    In the other hand, it cut them from traveling how we can etc…
    Also a though, some of those persons even bergers ( animal guardians) in Rajasthan are more happy, with what we see as much less, than us! Yes they have less money, less everything, but more happiness than a lot of American/ Europeans etc…they have a family life, there elderly people are very respected, and surrounded by there family or community until they die….they help each other and laugh when they go to bed at night…
    But yes I know we are lucky! And we have more option !
    So it s our duty to realize it be thankful and be the better version of ourself!
    Sorry if I was a bit long in my answer, but it is something I often think about…..

    Like

    1. You are reminding me of the impression I had when I went to India. I found that so many, with so little, were smiling and happy. And some of the most generous people I’d ever met. Not to romanticize poverty, though. I also saw a lot who were suffering.

      I continually come to the word “value”, as you are right, in that money is not the only determining factor in well-being. Far from it! For instance, I would not want to be a millionaire with a stressful life. “Free” time (meaning the ability to do what I want with my time) is of the greatest wealth to me.

      I really appreciate you adding your perspective on this topic, as I’ve been giving it much thought and seeing how it influences me as an artist…

      Thank you!

      Like

    2. Thanks as well for sharing your thoughts. I meet today an astronaute and SAW the light in His eyes when je Was Talking about the future as His future doing His first flight un Space in 2014!
      I love seing someone making His dream comes true and seeing further!

      Crasy to think How Life CAN be different from one person to another!

      Yet, i think one is the happiest With health and the pursuit of love dream and happiness…

      We just have to understand What we aspire at and What dream we want to réalisé to fill Our Life.

      I have not yet answered that question, for myself!

      I réalise however that i am Lucky to have a choice!

      One thing i am sûre about i want to be able to smile at m’y Life and in m’y Life!

      Like

    3. So true! As I’m teaching my son that his choices are the basis of his life, I’m reminding myself. We all get to choose how we want to live within the conditions we are given.
      One of my dreams is to see the whole world living their greatest dreams.
      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Like

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