If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.
75%. That means you are within the richest top 25% on the planet. If that doesn’t make you feel blessed, and thankful then I don’t know what will. Here are the Top 10 things I’ve learnt to be grateful for, just from being British.
If you’ve ever complained about the NHS, rethink it. We have a free system, for us all living in the UK, to help and treat us for our illnesses and injuries. We trip and break our arm; it will be x-rayed and put into a cast. We get sick; the doctor see’s us, diagnoses us and recommends us the right medicine. And if god forbid we are given some awful news, we are given with the most up to date treatment on offer. It is all free, for everyone. There are people in the world who are dying of disease every day, people who lose limbs and suffer severe sickness, with nowhere to go and no treatment available. Remember this when we are moaning we can’t get an appointment at the doctors for a week.
Education is one of the most powerful things, and not just for children, although everything should start at the bottom. We need get children involved and enjoying learning, meaning they will take more in and be happier in school surroundings. Most kids don’t enjoy the ‘daily drag’ of school, but in third world countries, the kids are desperate to learn! To listen to, understand, and absorb new information, whether it’s maths, science, a new language or sports. They appreciate that education is priceless, and want to learn to better their lives. Every child in the UK has access to free education. Don’t take it for granted, because, although you can always go back to studying at a later date, you will be paying for it then, in both money and time.
3. Clean Water, Food and Shelter
Surely the top 3 things most commonly taken for granted in countries around the world. Thirsty? Go to the tap and have a glass of water. Hungry? Go to the fridge and have a snack. Thundering outside? Stay in. Could you imagine not having access to clean water? Walking miles for each and every day to drink dirty, diseased, river water? Not eating for days on end, and then when you finally have some old, stale scraps, having to share with everyone around you? Or suffering the heat, the sun, the rain or the snow because you have no roof over your head? In 2005, a survey estimated that over 100 million people were homeless worldwide, and were forced to sleep rough on the streets outside. That bed still uncomfortable?
4. Our Right to Vote
Our right to vote is one of the greatest freedoms we could ask for, and we are so lucky to have been given the chance to have our say. Whether you believe that your vote matters or not, to be able to make your choice and know that everyone – yes, and the “but my one vote won’t make a difference” thinkers – will shape the way our country is run and how our futures unfold. I am a strong believer in the saying “if you didn’t vote, you have no right to moan”, as you were given an opportunity that so many millions of people would die to have, and you wasted it, so how can you complain.
Of course, we don’t always get our way, but if you voted and unfortunately the result went against your wishes, at least you know that, right or wrong, the decision will be made in light of what the majority of the public want.
I went into more detail about the freedom we have to travel being British, when I talked about our Iconic Red Passport, and what is means. But being able to hope from country to country, continent to continent is something I think most of us don’t even realise that we really take for granted.
6.Freedom to Choose your Marriage Partner
In many countries, including Britain, you have the choice to choose who you want to marry and spend your life with. However, in others, you are told who you will marry by your parents, by an arranged marriage. A friend of mine from Nepal is 28, which in their culture is quite old for him not to be married yet. Unless he finds a girlfriend in the next couple of months, he is going home in the winter to marry someone who is ‘suitable’ for him. I asked him if he would prefer to wait until he found someone he truly loves and wants to be with, rather than be married off, just because it’s ‘not normal’ to be single at 28, and he said no. I think it’s sad that pride comes before their happiness, and that they would rather marry ‘just anyone’, so they don’t have to tell people that he doesn’t have a wife.
7. Freedom of Lifestyle Choice
Our lifestyle is how we choose to live our life. What job we work, where we live, what we do and who we spend our time with. You want to be a banker, you can be. You want to move to Australia, you can do. There is no set path for us, or expectations we must live up to. There are no rules about who we can see and where we can go. Aside from the laws, put in place to stop criminal behaviour, how you spend your time is completely up to you. In some cultures, your job, house and circle of friends will be decided for you, whether you like it or not.
8. Relationship with Parents and Family
In some countries, the relationship between you and your parents and family members is very different to the Western civilisation. Something I have learnt from my Nepali and Indian friends is that there is a great amount of respect, especially for their elders. This, I love, and respect so much – it’s something I think a lot of people forgotten over time. However, as much as it is fantastic that people respect their parents and would do anything for them, I believe at times, it could be too much and it could stop people from doing what they truly want. In some cultures, if the parents say no, the children will not go against them, no matter how old, or what the request is. I think it’s a shame, because if someone is asking permission regarding a big life decision, maybe where they want to live, or doing something which enables them to live their dream, and the parents say no for whatever reason, the child (again, no matter how old, it could be a 30 year old), will not do it out of respect for their parents. I fully support the respect, but when it stops you from what you want, and ultimately being happy, then who is really coming out with a positive?
9. How we Dress
In the UK, we can wear whatever we want – as long as we are wearing clothes in public! It doesn’t matter if the colours don’t match, or if the clothes are for girls or boys, if you like it, you can wear it, no problem. If it’s hot, the shorts and t-shirts make an appearance, and when it’s cold, the coats come out. Something as small as having your shoulders on show, is very disrespectful in some cultures, and severely frowned upon. The same applies to wearing short skirts or dresses, and in some places, simply showing your face or any skin at all is against faith. For me, this is crazy. I respect people’s religious choices, but when it’s hot, what is wrong with wearing shorts to feel a breeze? If you’re at the beach, surely swimming costumes are the only options?
10. Old Fashioned Views
This relates to a few of the previous 9 points. Some arguments are down to race and religion, but many are down to old fashioned views. In small, remote villages, they are thinking now as they did 100 years ago (this could be argued that it’s down to a lack of education). Old fashioned minds mean old fashioned views, and that means on everything. Day-to-day things, dress codes, marriage, and also, gender roles. The old traditional view that the woman should stay home cleaning, cooking and looking after the children while the men are out at work is still how life is in a lot of places. For us in the West, we now push for gender equality, with both men and woman working, supporting the family and looking after the house. In places with this now outdated outlook, it is common for the girls to be out of work, stay quiet, not to drink alcohol and to not dream of going out with friends, especially if they are male. Although this must be normal for these women, for me it seems like hell. Not just unfair and unequal, but boring and unsatisfying. How can you be happy in life when you don’t get the freedom to choose what you do all day, who you spend time with, and most importantly, not to follow your heart and dreams?
It’s crazy how many things, big or small that we don’t realise we take for granted, but when you get thinking, and get speaking with people from other nations and backgrounds, you realise just how lucky we are, living in such a free country.