Somewhere around the world / Someone would love to have my first world problems
Matthew Good Band’s 1995 song titled “Omissions of the Omen”
Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities! Luke 12:48 (The Message)
The meme “first world problems” has been around for maybe two decades. The words are used casually, like a good punch line, and indeed it often is. We can look at our entitled behavior and make fun of it. Yet beneath the humor is a stark reality- we have become quite entitled to what we assume is our rightful inheritance of convenience and even luxury.
I don’t think we should be too hard on ourselves for this, in that it is human nature, and it has existed, well, since there have been humans. When conveniences and a certain lifestyle become prevalent, we expect that it will happen forever. Further, if that gets disrupted, we get grumpy, maybe angry. We believe that we deserve such a lifestyle, and have a right to it.
A visit to the “third world” gives us a temporary jolt, and we become, at least for a while, more grateful for what we have. Perhaps it engenders pity for those who do not have even the basic things that we enjoy- plenty of fresh water, abundant food, lifestyle and career choices, relative safety in our environment etc. The list could go on for a while, depending on how high up the chain we live.
This struck me the other day as the newscasters began discussion about vaccine distribution around the world. The AstraZeneca vaccine seems to hold promise for distribution to poorer countries because it does not require the cold storage that other vaccines need. This is good news indeed. However, if we think that we have distribution problems (and we do), think about distribution to remote areas of the world.
Indeed, some corrupt political regimes will withhold distribution for political or punitive measures. Even where that is not the case, black markets will arise and deprive many people access to the vaccine. Some countries will not be able to afford the distribution, even if cost is not the big factor. Infrastructure may not be existent to get the vaccines to the general population.
What is the response to be from the “first world”? How can Christians respond to this meaningfully? Of course, I do not know the answers to these questions. I do think that it is important to raise them, however.
What are the things we CAN do to help?
Prayer: Lord, we have been given so much. Help us to be mindful stewards of those riches, Amen