I was at the supermarket yesterday, stocking up on post-Pesach food items after coming back from vacation. While there I ran into one of the ladies from the local community who was all a fluster. It seems she had come to to store to buy chicken to make for dinner and the fridge bar where the meat is displayed was sold out. This was, to her, a crisis as she wanted to cook chicken for dinner.
Now let me paint the scene for you: perhaps ten metres from the fridge meat is the freezer section where there were some kosher chickens. Above the frozen chickens were prepared meats like burgers, chicken patties, etc. The local kosher butcher shop, which was still open at that point, was only 5 minutes drive away. For this woman, however, the world was crashing down. This was simply unacceptable. She wanted fresh (if you consider that the chickens were killed about a week earlier is now called "fresh") chicken! Where was the manager?
(Even her teenage daughter was rolling her eyes in embarrassment)
Naturally upon seeing me she came over expecting a sympathetic ear. At this point, the old line from Bugs Bunny should come to mind: "He don't know me too well, do he!" To my credit, I listened without laughing and then advised her that I would call the Afghan War Widow Relief committee to let them know I'd found someone in worse trouble than their clients. She wasn't terribly impressed with the answer but I really didn't care at that point.
Look around. We live in the most blessed time in history. Clean water from our taps. The rule of law in the streets (most of 'em). Free and accessible education for all. Modern medicine that is also affordable for most (especially in Canada). Food free of disease, available in large quantities at reasonable prices. Cars for almost everyone. Satellite TV with 1000's of channels and the internet bringing us a universe of information instantly. If the worse problem is one's life is that one has to spend an hour defrosting a chicken or driving five minutes to buy one because a "fresh" one was unavailable where one was at that moment, then one is living in an amazing place and time, one billions of people would trade their souls to be part of.
Perhaps I'm just more cynical because I spend my day listening to people complain about the most trivial of things as if they were life-ending tragedies. Too many patient interviews start off with "How are you today?" "Terrible, Lord Ironheart, just terrible!" "Why?" "I've had a sore throat and cough for two days!" Perhaps too many times I've responding "Really! Well at least you have a roof over your head, clean water to drink, medicine coverage, healthy food and no cancer but yes, that sore throat sounds like it's a life ruiner!"
Every moment we have in which we have our health and security is priceless and precious. The real tragedy is if we spend that time complaining about stupid little things that don't really harm us and aren't really of consequence. The wasted time not appreciating how wonderful things are is the real loss. I just wish more people would realize that.