OPINION: “Where war is rampant, life is treasured”: Americans and a life of luxury

Here in America, we have freedoms that people in other countries are too afraid to even dream about. We have so much food that we waste it. We have a surplus of water that is squandered. We have electricity, a luxury that a lot of people never have experienced.

In America, due to the Constitution, we have the right to freedom, a democratic society, the choice of faith, and pursuit of the happiness that comes with these freedoms. These “rights” give us the freedom to choose how we live. So, we throw away our relationships, blow our money on frivolities, cars, the multi-billion dollar sex-trade, and kill our babies before they have a chance to break free from the womb, breathe their first breath of air or cry out to the world in anger at this atrocity. People exercise these “rights” without considering that our privileges are not even an option to be considered in most countries.

Benjamin Franklin said, “The Constitution gives people the right to happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” As a society we think that because we have the right to do something we should do it even if it is wrong and will bring sorrow rather than joy.

In our search for happiness, it seems that we have lost sight of the things that actually matter. We have forgotten to seek the joy that gives us strength, the joy of the Lord. When we are seeking his joy then who we are, what we want and how it makes our life easier do not matter as much because we are doing things that bring him joy like helping others, caring for the widows and orphans and feeding the hungry.

Throughout the world, there are women who are barren while others have their children taken from them and sold, killed or traded for food that will feed other family members. I agree with Mother Teresa of Calcutta who said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” “It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you choose.” In America we kill our babies up into the third trimester because they will be “a bother”. We also verbally, physically, sexually, and mentally abuse our children because they are easy targets. We have become a self-indulgent society demanding instant gratification, status, respect and autonomy as if those are things that are owed to rather than earned by us.

In other countries, women still are treated like cattle, given no voice and no choice, bartered to men in exchange for status, money or power and discarded with no thought about their future or the future of their children. In other cultures life often is unbearable for females of any age; beatings, rape and “honor killings” are everyday threats and occurrences, even here in America. Human trafficking is considered normal in places where there never is enough food, shelter or water to go around. Orphans overrun the cities and surrounding areas in some countries, selling their bodies, scavenging and begging as they search for food, shelter and solace.

Where war is rampant, life is treasured. Where famine is common, every crumb is savored. Where water is scarce, rainwater is collected and used for multiple purposes. Local water sources are guarded and protected to the death. The same source often is used for bathing, disposal of human and animal waste and drinking water. In many countries disease threatens the greater population because of shortages, poor hygiene and improper waste disposal. The greed of the government and the elite in some countries prevent the eradication of illness and stymie the growth of the economy, agricultural farming, and industry. Poverty is rampant.

Most Americans have no real concept of what poverty looks like because they have never experienced it. “Living below the poverty line” does not mean you are truly impoverished. Where true poverty exists, the taste hangs heavy in the air, suffocating those oppressed by it, drowning them in the stench of sweaty, unwashed bodies packed like sardines in a can. Starvation, overwhelming fear and sorrow, filth, deadly sickness, high birth rates, exploitation, prostitution for survival not luxuries, high child mortality rates and other evils that Americans have rarely or never tasted often consume those who actually exist in true poverty. Most destitute societies have no hope of ever escaping this consumption since they have no education, money, opportunity or assistance in overcoming the obstacles they face.

However, some people have learned to transcend their situation; to love, treasure life and see the beauty in the sea of darkness and sorrow. Those people are freer in their souls than most Americans will ever be. Freedom of the mind, heart, soul and spirit is true independence, and finding it is rare. If you find it, grab it with both hands and never let it go.

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