Count Your Blessings

My mom used to say this to me all the time when I was growing up. “Count your blessings. You don’t realize how fortunate you are. There are starving children in Africa.”

Of course, these sentiments fell deaf on the ears of an ignorant, indulged middle-class white American girl. I honestly thought quite the opposite was true; I had to be one of the most unfortunate people in the world, didn’t I? I mean, my parents were strict and at times physically abusive, we didn’t have a lot of spare change lying around and I had to wear non-name-brand clothing a lot (gasp!). How could anyone have possibly had it worse than me? Okay. Maybe a few people could have possibly had it worse than me. But, not many – trust me!

My, how times and perspectives have changed. Today I count my blessings on a regular basis, and I still don’t think I’m grateful enough. I do frequently question the good fortune of my life, though. How is it that I was not only lucky enough to be born in America – arguably one of the greatest nations in the world – but also, born to parents who loved me unconditionally (albeit in their twisted way at times), born in modern times where I don’t have to worry about when my next bath will be, being persecuted for being a woman, or dying from the whooping cough? I’ve also never experienced racism or bigotry directed at me to a large extent because the color of my skin is white. About the only way I could have been more blessed is if I was born a male to an affluent family. Not that I consider the opposite sex better than my own, but being a female does mean I’m a minority and there are some drawbacks associated with it.

I think about the people in other nations – the women especially – who are suffering atrocities every single day: female genital mutilation, repeated rape, forced prostitution, arranged marriage, starvation – the list goes on. I could have very easily been born to a lifetime of such horror. But I wasn’t. And I need to recognize that fact on a regular basis, lest I find myself reverting to the thought processes I had as a child.

Yesterday we were given some startling and troubling news at work. The company is looking at cutting costs in a number of ways, some of which could have a negative financial impact on some employees. I understand this sucks. The whole damn economy in the US sucks right now. We’re living in precarious and unsettling times. Yet, we still remain fortunate, in my opinion.

The news yesterday was an announcement of some upcoming changes that will definitely be happening, as well as some changes they are only thinking about implementing. The company has a policy of being open with their employees, and I appreciate that, probably more than most given my history. You see, I worked for another company for 8 years whose policies resembled nothing of openness and candor. Everything was clandestine and hush-hush. If there were going to be layoffs, you heard about them as you were being escorted out the door, and those left behind were given shoddy explanations. This is why, even though the news yesterday wasn’t great, I’m still grateful. I appreciate the advance notice and the respect given to the employees here. As an employee, it increases my loyalty and faith in the company itself.

Not everyone has the benefit of walking in each others’ shoes, though, and I’m seeing evidence of that today. There’s a lot of bitterness and complaining going around. My viewpoint seems to be in the minority. I want to preach to certain people the same way my mom did to me as a young child. “You don’t know how good you have it. Count your blessings.” I won’t do that. But, it’s a good thing I have a blog. ;-)

Now go count your blessings. (And thank a veteran!)

One Response to “Count Your Blessings”

  1. Steve says:

    I think my starving children where in China. When I visited there for work in the late 80′s, I mentioned this to my translator. He looked at me like I had two heads, which, considering the jet lag, is exactly how I felt.

    Most companies in my experience do not telegraph these sorts of plans. I think the fear is that the people they want to keep will leave if they feel at risk and they’ll be stuck with the folks they were thinking of letting go. Not a lot of trust in that thinking.

    My company has offices in India and I was having my weekly conference call with my Indian team. They are worried there too. Apparently a lot of the IT work is being cut back over there and they asked about their outlook. I could only tell them what I knew, which wasn’t much: I’m not running to the exits and I don’t think they should either.

    It’s a scary time and I think the proper response, for those of us working, it to increase our charitable contributions, especially to local charities. That’s my plan, or it will be after discussing it with my wife.