Overall I really do like Christmas, because it’s one of the few times of the year that I usually get to spend some quality time with my family. However I don’t really like the hyper consumerism part of Christmas. I have nothing against the giving of gifts per se at all, especially to the kiddos. But the intensity of gift giving and the high expectations for receiving gifts for so many people doesn’t sit well with me. There are several reasons that this aspect of the biggest holiday of the year turns me off, but one of the biggest ones is that I think it reduces our ability to appreciate what we already have. And if you are reading this blog piece then chances are that you have WAY more than the average person in the world.
So being that we are in the holiday season and that this is a travel-related blog, let’s take a look at a few basic statistics that will help us (yes, me too!!) remember how lucky we are to get to travel around the world and how lucky we are in general compared to so many of those that live in countries whose people are on average MUCH less fortunate than we are.
Only about 5% of the world’s population has ever flown on an airplane.
According to Worldwatch Institute only 1 in 20 people have ever had the luxury of flying on a plane. And if there are statistics out there somewhere for the percentage of people in the third world who have flown on a plane, I bet the number is much smaller. I imagine almost everyone reading this has flown at LEAST once in their lives, some many, many times. We are so lucky!
Almost half of the people in the world live on less than $2.50 per day.
This is per the World Bank. Less than $2.50 per day? As we all know there are millions of us who spend more than that per day on coffee alone. Or just for the gasoline for our cars or for the electricity to heat and cool our cozy homes. We tend to take these kinds of things totally for granted when there are literally billions of people struggling just to get by, many of whom we see on a daily basis when we travel in certain countries of the world.
Only about 30% of the people in the world have access to the internet.
Per InternetWorldStats.com less than one third of the world population can even get on the internet. Now I know that access to the web by itself doesn’t bring happiness, nor does flying on a plane or having more than $2.50 per day to live on. But I think you can catch my drift in that our living conditions, compared to those of so many others, certainly gives us so many more opportunities to actually do whatever it is we want to do in our lives. And I am not preaching here at all, because I know that I am constantly forgetting how good of a life that I have.
Now I didn’t bring up these facts to make you feel bad or guilty. My message is actually a very positive one – we need to remember and appreciate how incredibly good we have it relative to the majority of the world, and we need to remember and have compassion for those less fortunate. Instead of taking things for granted, we need to be thankful for the incredible abundance that we already have. And we need to make sure we make the most of our amazingly lucky circumstances by fully appreciating our lives and helping those in need the best we can along the way. To me that’s the true spirit of the holiday season.
Travel well and Happy Holidays!