I’ve always found the response of “first world problems” to any seemingly trivial complaint to be problematic. While its intent may be to remind the complainant of his/her blessings, the implication is that once you reach a certain level of privilege that you don’t have real problems any longer. Moreover, I think the response gives an excuse to the respondent to be dismissive. Why, especially if a friend is telling you s(he) is struggling with something, would you essentially say “Hey. You’re stupid for even thinking you have a problem.”? The issue is either legitimate OR if the complainant truly has a problem with seeing how blessed s(he) is, perhaps you could restore them in a way that is less abrasive.
If The Lord knows something that appears as inconsequential as the number of hairs on our head, surely we can do a better job of listening to each other’s struggles.
I say this to say I believe that first world problems are very serious ones. Not the problems themselves, necessarily, but what having them means. As I am teaching the babies patriotic songs, we discuss the reason we sing them and the sacrifices that those who have served have made so that we can freely discuss anything. The first day we sing them, everyone is generally well-behaved and respectful.
The babies get it – people have done things for them so that they could be there. They appreciate being able to sing and play and learn. The next time I see them, someone is invariably distracted or goofing off. I’ve got to remind them again – don’t forget why you are able to be here! They tighten up quickly.
Without exception – the older the students get, the more reminders I have to give.
I don’t think this is a coincidence. The more experience that we have with privilege, the more we tend to take for granted. That is a big ass problem. It has to do with more than honoring our amazing military. Upon their shoulders stand parents, teachers, and who knows who else that enable all of us to live lives that most people in the world could not even imagine. In a strange twist, too often we are caught up in creating and living that life we forget why it is that we’re able to do anything.
I wish we didn’t need holidays for those reminders. We really should live every day remembering the sacrifices of others. It is because increase in privilege does not mean decrease in fragility and fallibility that we must make special effort to honor our heroes.
Happy Memorial Day!