A Sense of Perspective

I have just returned from Bangladesh visiting a business that we co-own, which provides a platform for a number of community interventions – provision of stable employment, adding value through the supply chain, working with the impoverished and so on. The area, Nilphimari in Northern Bangladesh is currently suffering from the Monga, which means ‘the hunger’. There is no shortage of food, but there is 90% unemployment in an area dependent on agriculture and where there is still 6 weeks to go until harvest time. Paid under $1 per day during harvest and planting seasons, the people are expected to save a portion of that income to pay for the months where there is no work. Another name for the Monga is ‘mora kartik’, which means “months of death and disaster”.
Reading the paper on returning to Britain, I read of the very real distress of a couple in Athens, both retired public sector workers who retired in their 50s, whose pension payments had recently been cut from Euro3,500 to Euro2,500 per month. How were they to live? Athens, they say, is not a cheap place to live. They may even need to move house!
Whilst not seeking to diminish the real distress felt by that couple, it did strike me, on my return from Asia, that we in Europe might have developed a grotesque sense of entitlement.
The more that we are able to connect with the realities of life in much of the rest of the world – where over 1 billion people live on less than a dollar a day and where access to quality healthcare, education and justice is an impossible dream – then the more easily we will be able to adjust to the radical changes to our own quality of life that is surely coming.
And the more we will realise that, in the big scheme of things, it could be a lot worse.

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