As individuals, we are programmed to think mainly about ourselves. From the moment we wake up in the morning we are thinking selfishly — “I don’t want to wake up today,” “I’m tired,” “What will I do today?” “How will I make it through the day?” “What will I do after work?” “What will I do this weekend?”
Statements and questions with pronouns, “I” and “me” run through our brains on a continuous cycle.
According to a study by the New York Times, we spend about 95% of our day thinking about ourselves — 95%. Let that marinate for a while. Did it shock you? Okay, good, that’s what I wanted. Now, let’s continue.
Most of us are fortunate individuals; 89% of those living in Utah survive above the poverty line. This means that we probably live pretty good lives. We probably have enough food to eat and we probably have some sort of a roof over our heads. We are fortunate enough to have time to think about what we will do this weekend, or if we have time to snooze our alarms. But the 11% of individuals who live below the poverty line don’t have the luxury of thinking about such things.
Those who live below the poverty line include everyone from the homeless, to the struggling single parents with children to feed, to the addict, to the individuals living in jail. Arguably, all of these groups are important. Yes, even addicts and those incarcerated or recently released from jail.
With 95% of our thoughts being self-consumed, when do we have time to think about these minorities? The answer is clear. We don’t have much time and it’s disheartening.
As a society, most of the time we ignore these marginalized groups, because of how selfish we are. We walk by the homeless man on the street with his head held low pretending like we don’t see him. We make fun of the addict who passed out from a drug overdose on the side of the road and think, “Thank goodness that’s not me. How embarrassing.” We gossip about the abused, single mother saying, “Why couldn’t she just stick her marriage out?” And we hold our bags tightly when we are on the bus with the ex-con covered in tattoos refusing to make eye contact, praying that they don’t hurt us. Why are we so darn selfish?
I believe with everything in me that selfishness is a learned behavior. We learn from others around us and society, to have this “better than you” attitude. Oftentimes, part of our selfishness includes thinking too highly of ourselves and looking down on those less fortunate than us. Just like what I said about our perception of the addict and our, “Thank goodness that’s not me” attitude. As a society we have become disgusting and heartless this way.
I want to challenge you to start to take notice of these marginalized groups. Even if all you can do is smile at someone less fortunate than you. Spend 1% more of the 5% of the time you think about others during the day caring for someone. It’s not easy but it will be worth it in the end.
“We don’t need to have deep pockets to be rich to help the needy, the poor, and the hungry. We need to have a heart,” said Kevin Dcruz.
What percentage of our thoughts need to be about others for us to simply have a heart? I’ll let you decide that.
If you are a Bible believing type like me, Tai Anderson, from one of my favorite Christian bands Third Day said, “You see, caring for the poor and worshipping God are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would argue they are one in the same.”
Another quote says, “If you can’t feed 100 people, feed just one.”
I love this, because most of us don’t have the funds to feed 100 people, but what if you feed one person and that one person gets their life back on track and feeds one more? And then that person feeds another. That’s three individuals fed simply because you fed one individual. You started a chain reaction that could eventually reach 100 or more people. How cool is that? You can apply this to any type of relief you provide to the less fortunate.
I want to close by saying that you don’t have to move mountains to help those less fortunate than you. We aren’t able to end hunger or help these groups alone. We all need to do our part even if it’s a small part. Let’s just try to see change in our community first.