If we are reading this article, aren’t we all lucky?
In the last years, especially since the economical crisis in Portugal became harder, I have been listening to people complaining about how Portugal is poor and how Portuguese people are wronged. I believe the same happens in other countries, but for the sake of this post, I will only mention Portugal as the place I grew up and from which I felt coerced to emigrate (which might be a topic for another day). I have also been hearing how much lucky I am, which is true, but not as people see it…
I understand these voices, and I believe we shall go after a better life, but I do not see how complaining will bring us that. Portugal is not poor. I am humble and bold when I say that Portugal, or the Portuguese people – and here I stand against myself – is solely poor in its character.
Is there poverty in Portugal? Of course there is! And I don’t believe we should set up for it. But my goal here is not to highlight how serious the social contrasts are. My aim with this text is to inspire you to reflect upon your own behavior.
I do believe that sometimes we don’t have better luck just because we cannot recognize how lucky we already are.
In my first trip to Asia, somewhere in a remote place, I came to face a reality I could have never imagined existed. Before that experience I though I knew what poverty was. What I saw and what I felt that day is something I still cannot explain.
At that moment, and until today, I feel lucky to have grown up in Portugal. All those persons I crossed, some of them begging, others trying to speak English, most of them smiling at us or laughing among themselves, those persons live there. What I have experienced for those 2 life-long hours, they experience for 10, 30, 50, 70 years (if they are lucky enough to live that long)! The concept of poverty I had in mind could not come even close to what I saw – again, only during 2 hours. Babies lying on the garbage bags, where the ambient temperature was above 30 humid degrees, grown up children playing barefoot among the trash, in a dusty ground; parents cooking with their handcars whenever there was space to sell food and gain their day. Everything was happening with mountains of garbage bags and waste spread all over the ground.
Think about how much you have before complaining and maybe you change your mind.
As an outsider observer, I could see that the issue there was not negligence. It was not about parents miss caring their children or miss protecting them from danger. No! It was not about parents who leave their children to grow on their own! It is purely the reality they live in. That’s what they know. They don’t know clean, silence and pure air. Children grow up there, become adults and die when elder (again, if they are lucky enough to age that long). That’s all they get to know in their entire life.
That’s why, before we complain, we should think about what we have: the air we can breath, the water we can drink, the clean bed we can sleep on, the windows we can close to block the outside noise, the trash we can discard away from home, the food we can eat…
For me, that’s luck. Luck is to have opportunities, to be able to choose. Luck is what we have in Portugal.
I challenge you to reflect more and to contribute to a better world, through the small things of your daily life. I challenge you to work your conscience for those other realities we continuously make an effort to ignore, or even those we have no idea that might exist. I challenge you to replace complaint by gratefulness. I challenge you to identify what you can, or can’t do to achieve the solutions you want to see…and based on that, I wish you to challenge yourself to acting instead of complaining.
With all my love,