For Life


Maybe it’s my bias, or the kinds of news stories I choose, or shows and films that I watch, but it seems like we – adults – are under-valuing how difficult life is now for, well… for just about everyone who may not be doing as well as we are.

When I went to school my biggest worry was the occasional fight and getting sent to the principal’s office for disrupting class with my whispered jokes from the back of the room.

Today, even in elementary school, American children have to fear being attacked by an armed madman intent on slaughtering them.

We, Americans, tend to blame the person for their circumstances, rather than seeing ourselves in their plight. We look at the homeless and see laziness or addiction, not really taking the time to consider s/he may be begging on the sidewalk because of something horrible that happened to her and her family.

Medical debt is the #1 cause of personal bankruptcy in America.

Few of us are safe from that, the tiny hard lump found during our shower, the back pain that hasn’t gone away for months that we just had confirmed as pancreatic cancer, the little mole on our back that no one noticed until we learned it was melanoma.

The simple truth is, being alive today, even in a country as wealthy and advanced as America, is scary and hard for a lot of people. More than we know.

Sometimes the difference between middle class success and stability and poverty and need comes down not to how hard we work but to luck: our parents, our genes, our education, our personal contacts, our support systems…

And that’s one of the reasons I really like the advertising campaign commissioned by Volvo:

We believe safe is the silent partner to progress, to greatness.
To think different. To be different.
Feeling safe makes us push ourselves.
To be ourselves. To challenge ourselves.
Because when you feel safe, you can be truly free.

That’s true, and maybe a little more human empathy and consideration for the difficulty many are facing every day wouldn’t hurt either.