Our Legitimate First World Problems
We sometimes think dismissively of the things that trouble us, and label them as ‘First World problems’. They don’t seem serious enough to warrant much attention, especially compared to the problems that we know that people face in the Third World. However, in doing so we might be doing ourselves a disservice.
Third World problems
It’s certainly true that people in the Third World have problems that seem much more severe and quite different from those we have in the First World. They are visited by disease, war, displacement, poverty, early death and destruction of families. These sorts of catastrophic problems are ones that we rarely if ever have to face ourselves; and yet we can get so overwhelmed by the things that do trouble us.
Instead, we are strongly affected by poor university marks, the end of a relationship and being overlooked for promotion. These things seem to pale in comparison when we compare them to Third World problems, and we feel guilty for feeling bad for such seemingly trivial things.
You live in the First World
We need to keep in mind that we live in the First World, and if we continue to, all we can expect to experience are First World problems. It’s appropriate that we react with feeling to these things that happen to us – we do get affected by them. From this we can take the idea that emotional experiences are relative – if our world is disrupted, our opportunities are cut back and we lose someone we love, we will suffer. In this, we are all same.
If we need help, get it. Then help others.
It doesn’t help us to feel we shouldn’t suffer for what happens to us; and it doesn’t help the Third World either. It’s far better, then, that we recognise that we need help, and get that help; then, if we wish, from a more stable position extend our generosity to others in need.
– Tim Hill
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