I know, I know, “First World problem.”
I have big plans to hashtag it and make a meme of it on the internet. I actually have mixed feelings about that popular saying. We are a modern privileged society who enjoys the highest quality of life and convenience in the history of the world and, yes, because of it we can be spoiled, indulgent and ungrateful. But, the fact is we do have to function in the civilization in which we live, and our problems are problems nonetheless.
Right now, the civilization in which I live is one where I’m trying to keep my children from joining the growing population of entitled, enabled punks with truly pathetic First World problems like the Kardashians. So, I’ve made them get jobs to learn responsibility, time/money management and work ethic. This requires transportation to their places of employment and we don’t always have enough vehicles to get everyone where they need to be.
I recognize it’s not an equivalent struggle to a kid in a primitive remote Peruvian village who walks eight miles each way every day to fetch water for his family, though I often relate such examples to my children when they behave ungraciously. However, if I can solve my First World problem of getting my family to and from work, hopefully it will help create capable beings who will contribute to society in ways that help solve Third World problems. (Second Worlds are on their own because nobody knows who they are.)
I remember as a kid listening to a conversation between a few of my aunts at a family function. One was telling a story about a recent vacation she’d been on where everything had gone wrong from missed flights and lost luggage to wrong reservations. When she finished her story, one of the other aunts snidely commented, “At least you get to go on vacation. I never get to go anywhere.”
I was only a kid horning in on an adult conversation to feel grown up and included, but even I knew which aunt to feel sorry for at that moment. Just because the one aunt’s problems related to a luxury like vacation doesn’t mean they still weren’t frustrating and valid, nor did I ever think when she was telling the story that she wasn’t grateful to be able to go on the vacation or putting on airs about it.
I’m not ungrateful to own four vehicles. I know it’s a luxury in this world (though if you saw three of them you might think otherwise). I suppose we could get rid of a few cars and make our kids walk the eleven miles into town to get to work, but somehow I don’t think that would solve anything.
I have a friend who grew up next to an Amish community and he told me, “Yeah, they don’t believe in owning phones or cars themselves, but they had no problem coming over to use our phones and ask for rides when they needed it.” Maybe that’s a Second World problem.