He looked up at his mother and said, “Mom, here in America we are all rich.” He shook his head, looked down at the table and said, “I can’t believe people actually live like that today.”

The young man, 22 years old, was having his first conversation with his mother after having just returned from a trip to a South American country where he spent just more than two weeks. He showed his mother some pictures taken with his iPhone; they were of “homes” that he could see from the window of the home of the professional baseball player where he was staying. They looked worse than some chicken coops on farms in America.

He said, “I saw countless young kids without shoes, and some kids I estimated to be 12 to 14 years old running around stark naked. Those that were dressed had on T-shirts, or undershirts and shorts, and if they had on any shoes at all, they were flip-flops.” He compared that to kids here, even in the inner city, who walk around in the latest version of “Ms” (Michael Jordan’s new $199 sneakers) and diss those who don’t.

He continued, “Mom, I felt like I was on another planet. I saw people simply throwing trash into the streets, and I discovered that after using toilet paper, they would simply either put it in trash cans to throw it into the streets later or just throw it out first.” When she asked why even the people who did have indoor toilets did not flush toilet paper, they said “plumbing is so bad that it stops up and backs up, so we don’t take any chances; no paper is flushed down.” He also made special mention of the fact that the bathroom in the house where he was staying had a shower head, and a sink and even tile on the walls.

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He saw a lot of mopeds with double adult riders and when he inquired about it, he discovered that those particular mopeds were actually “taxicabs.” He also observed a noticeable lack of driver courtesy and discovered there were no posted speed limits, and extreme tailgating was commonplace. Pedestrians apparently take their lives into their own hands whenever they step out into the street, where horns, rather than brakes, rule and it seemed to him it was “every man for himself.” In addition, automobiles, buses and trucks, as well as moped taxis had to compete with donkeys and horse-drawn wagons for road space. There didn’t seem to be a lot of privately owned vehicles, for two reasons: Most people cannot afford them, and gas was over $7 a gallon. (And I sometimes go a mile out of my way to find $3.21 per gallon as opposed to $3.35.)

Finally, to top things off, he talked about power outages occurring regularly. “The electric power went off and on at unspecified times for unspecified periods. It could be all night or day, and be as many as 12 hours at a time. The power would simply click off without warning, and you were on your own. There is nothing anyone can do about it (it has been occurring there for more than 40 years), and if you don’t have a generator (and most folks don’t), you’re in trouble.”

He paused and then continued, “See, everyone here in America at least has the opportunity to advance, to build a better life for themselves if they so choose. The operative word, Mom, is chance – at least we have a chance!

He looked down for a moment (maybe he was Googling annual wages worldwide – $86-$460 per month for that country) and then concluded, “I have to say it again, Mom, compared to those folks, everybody in America is rich!” Hey, maybe the guy’s right!

One quick question: How many people do you know, in America who would work for $86 a month or even $460 a month? Allow me to quote from my last week’s WND column, written prior to being privy to the above incident:

“I have a suggested solution. It has been said, ‘Travel broadens one’s perspective,’ so instead of letting students graduate at grade 12, extend high school to grade 13; however, grade 13 would be spent abroad. They would be sent to countries (like the above) that do not abide by the principles incorporated into our society and be forced to live under the local customs and at the income level paid in that country.”

Could a major part of the complaining about life in America be rooted in the simple fact that a great many of the people born and raised here simply have no idea how fortunate they are? Could it be that the majority of complaints come from people who are totally unaware of the unparalleled privilege of living in the U.S.?

Perhaps if they could personally experience (even briefly) how most of the rest of the world lives, they would embrace a “gratitude attitude” and join those of us who say earnestly and fervently, “God Bless America!”

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