We Know There's Always Someone Worse Off … So Is It Time To Stop Complaining?

I've done a lot of thinking these past few weeks about how lucky I am. Lucky enough to live in a democracy where all of us have a right to political representation.  And lucky enough to live somewhere that isn't that prone to massive natural disasters. Because, if the past few weeks have taught us anything, it's that there truly is always someone worse off than ourselves.

The advent of 24-hour news has brought conflicts and disasters across the globe – conflicts that previously we might only have understood the sketchiest of details - right into our living rooms. Broadcast organisations like Sky News, with its countless correspondents deployed to report on the latest developments 'every 15 minutes' and the ability to shift the entire news 'studio', anchor team and all, to a building overlooking a popular uprising or the streets of Tokyo, means that we are far more aware of the struggles of our fellow humans. And that we really should have no excuse to bemoan a late bus or a long queue at the bank. Or at least not for very long.

In the past, I've sat in A & E waiting rooms and heard people complain they had yet to be seen when someone else had been taken straight in for medical attention. It seemed not to occur to them that perhaps that person's condition was worse than their own, and that they should be a least a teeny bit grateful that they didn't need such urgent medical care.

I've sat in a massive traffic jam after a road had been blocked by police while they talked down a potential suicide from a motorway bridge. Thankfully I cannot imagine what would drive someone to consider such action. All I can say is that I was enormously grateful for that. And yet there was at least one impatient person on our bus who just wished 'they would get on with it'. 

And doubtless there will be those who think that the current news saturation coverage of the popular uprisings in several Arabian countries and the Japanese earthquake-Tsunami-nuclear crisis is too much. They will feel that what happens in such far-off lands is irrelevant to us; after all years ago, these would have seemed much more distant. But I'd argue that today we have a more realistic picture of what occurs on the rest of our planet. And because we now have this wider knowledge, we need to understand it and, when necessary, act upon it.

I know that when you're having a bad day, you're having a bad day and no amount of tragedy somewhere else is really going to change that. I also know that it's part of human nature to bemoan our fate. And it seems that the more trivial the problem, the more we moan. But given the seemingly constant unrest, tragedy and uncertainty of the past few weeks, I wonder whether we wouldn't all benefit from taking a more positive approach to the little things that wind us up? I'm sure I'm not the only one who's finding looking at the news trying at times? So why fret about the little things? Better, surely, to appreciate the good things in our life and be darned grateful that, this time at least, we only have to deal with earthquakes and tsunamis and potential radioactive contamination through our television screens?