So I was just thinking about the past few weeks. Dissatisfaction had become the central theme of a lot of major conversations surrounding me. A lot of people are complaining about this and that and whatnot, and mostly it’s because they don’t get paid enough. It’s the “What’s In It For Me?” factor.
Well, let’s just list all the reasons I should be thankful. I’ll start with the things that money can’t buy:
- I have a wonderful, caring, loving family. Both my parents are alive and well, and they still work. My sister is starting a small business with her friends. We can still go to church together whenever I go home to Yogyakarta.
- My extended family is also fun to be with and most of them are in good shape (physically, financially, whatever).
- I have a lot of friends ranging from people I met in elementary school to work colleagues who have become some of my best friends. Good friends are hard to come by, and not any one person is capable of being the perfect friend, but my friends are good enough for me.
- My English is good, I believe in my logic, and I can play several musical instruments. All this I owe to God.
- I get to work on something that I love: programming. Work and office life is not always fun, but for the most part, it’s quite enjoyable.
Next, for the “mathematicians” among the readers, here are the things money and statistics can measure:
- I had retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma occurs on 1 of every 18,000 – 30,000 live births worldwide, and currently more than 90% of infants having retinoblastoma survive. Ten minutes of googling and five minutes of math would tell you that in 1984 there are between 300 to 500 infant deaths worldwide due to retinoblastoma. I survived, and I believe I wasn’t just part of a set of statistics. My survival is a miracle.
- I can read and write. This might seem like a very trivial thing, but about 16.8 million Indonesians are still illiterate.
- I have a Bachelor’s Degree, majoring in Electrical Engineering. Primary school net attendance ratio in Indonesia is above 85%, which means more than 85% of children aged 6-12 years (primary school age) actually attend primary school. Secondary school net attendance ratio drops to about 57%, and as you can imagine higher education NAR drops to well below that (no actual figure available yet).
- I have a job, and the longest period I have been unemployed is less than a month. No matter how stressed I am at work, I will be more stressed if I am unemployed. As of 2010, the estimated unemployment rate in Indonesia is 7.2% of the workforce, which amounts to around 8.4 million people.
- I have an income level that allows me to live comfortably, support my parents if only a bit, and aid others who are in need. I’m certain that my income level enables me to live well above the $1.25 PPP (purchasing power parity), and even well above $2.00 PPP. In Indonesia, as of 2010, 50.6% of the population (118.4 million) live with $2.00 PPP, and 18.7% of the population (43.7 million) have to make do with a $1.25 PPP.
- I can afford a nice boarding house and have three meals a day. Some say that there are more than 3 million homeless people in Indonesia alone. They probably sleep under bridges or on the streets, live on one or two meals per day, have no appropriate clothing to protect them from the heat of the sun or the pouring rain, and have to worry every day about getting scooped up by the local police.
- I have a company-sponsored health insurance policy. Last time I used it, I had a bad case of bacteria infection in my stomach and it would’ve cost me $40 if I didn’t have that covered.
- I get to fly home at least twice a year. The company covers the tickets, and even gives me a little bit more than necessary so that I can treat my family and friends to a really nice dinner every time I get home.
- I have a motorcycle. As of 2009, there are “only” 70.7 million motorized vehicles in Indonesia, more than 52 million of those being motorcycles. Keeping in mind that Indonesia’s public transportation system is not desirable, I consider owning my own motorcycle a privilege. And yes, I paid for it myself (settled the entire loan in under a year, at that), another privilege if I may say so.
- I have a cellphone. About 35% of Indonesia’s population (81.9 million people) can’t afford to have a mobile cellular telephone subscription.
- I have an internet connection. Two, in fact. As of July 2011, internet penetration in Indonesia is only 21%, which means more than 63 million people aged 15 – 65 in Indonesia have no internet access.
- I can spend less then I earn, and thus have quite a bit of money left at the end of the month to transfer to my savings account. A lot people have trouble with their shopping habits and a lot more have trouble just making their ends meet.
There you go. This list could go on with all the luxuries that I can afford for myself. I’m not the richest guy in the world, but there are a lot more people who don’t have what I have now. To put things in perspective, here’s a list of some people that I met during my last visit to Yogyakarta that are thankful for what they have:
- A geek friend who is struggling to keep his computer store open while paying the operating costs of it and dealing with the gambler landlord and pesky police officers. Thank God, all I have to do is what my boss tells me to do, and I get paid. I don’t have to worry about me going out of business (at least, for now), getting an eviction notice, or being in jail.
- A friend in adventures who works graveyard shifts while working on her thesis because she’s been paying her own tuition fees since her first year in college. Thank God, all I had to do was text my mom and she’d give me money to pay my tuition, all the way until graduation.
- A friend in gaming who dropped out of college and is now struggling to stay on top of things by learning to be a property reseller. If the business slows down, he would have to go for months on end on practically nothing. Thank God, I never have to worry about next month’s salary.
Alright, so this post is starting to get too long to read. With all the reasons to be thankful I mentioned above (and many more I couldn’t write down), if I’m still complaining, I should be ashamed of myself.
So, dear God, teach me not to focus on what I have not, but on what I can share with others. Teach me to focus on my privileges rather than my limitations. Teach me to appreciate the littlest of things that other people may not be able to experience.