In 1866, my ancestors lost three children in one week to a diphtheria epidemic.
Children aged 13, 11 and 9 just . . . gone. (How are immunizations looking to you now?)
I read this fact on the weekend while visiting my mother for Easter. My genealogically inclined relatives dug up an impressive amount of information on my poor English farmer ancestors. They found a sketch of the remote log cabin—rustic at best—in which the family lived. No plumbing or running water, of course. No furnace that clicked on when a chill set in. No Mac’s Milk on the corner or butchery down the street. And then they lost three children in one week.
Yeah, really. I have nothing to complain about.
A few years ago a friend and I chatted about how, no matter how grim things get in our lives, there is always someone in a worse state. The day after our conversation she sent me this message: “Remember when we were discussing the subject: There’s always somebody worse off than me, so I wonder what the worst person has to deal with? I guess it isn’t Nick.” Her message included a link to a video about Nick Vujicic, a man with no arms or legs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo_24_qTNac
Please watch Nick and be inspired. He has so many challenges, but he’s happy. He’s so busy telling everyone how lucky he is, he has no time to complain.
So, who is the person in the world who is the worst off? Is it even possible to know? It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? And we all choose our own perspectives. We all choose whether to be happy or unhappy about the long line-up at Starbucks, or the guy in traffic who takes too long at the red light, or missing arms and legs.
Who is the person in the world with the worst lot in life?
It’s not me. I’ll bet it’s not you. No matter what’s happening for you today, try your best to smile. At least you’re not losing three children in one week.