American Culture to Appreciate

At the end of June, I packed up my Madrid apartment to leave for the summer. And I started my 20-hour journey to get back to Florida. After living abroad for a year with a thousand new changes, there’s nothing better than walking back into your childhood home.

Stepping out of a culture helps you keenly notice how it works when entering back in. It’s because we become accustomed, and numbed, to our surroundings so quickly when we’re around them each day.

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In his podcast, Andy Stanley teaches that we notice the consistent elements in life the least. For example, no one ever walked into a room with the perfect temperature and said, “Wow, you know? They didn’t make it too hot or cold here. It feels just right.” People only notice when it’s too hot, or too cold. We notice the inconsistent parts of life, while the consistent ones slip beneath our consciousness.

Stepping back into American culture for the summer, I like what I see. Here are a few parts of America I am grateful for, and if you have become too accustomed to them, remind yourself of their importance:

// Part One: Our Nation’s Wealth //

How much money do you live from each day? Between meals, gas, rent, coffee, how much do you spend? Well here’s how much the world spends:

  • 11% of the world lives off less than $2 per day.¹
  • 56% of the world lives off $2-10 per day.
  • 13% of the world lives off $10-20 per day.
  • 9% of the world lives off $20-50 per day.
  • 7% of the world lives off more than $50 per day.²

As a practical example, here are my expenses from yesterday. I made coffee at my house, $0.50. I drank a $0.20 bottle of water. I bought a $2.20 iced coffee. My gas was $5. I ate at a delicious Italian restaurant for $12. Last night, I drank a $4 bottle of kombucha tea. I have a few monthly online subscriptions for $95 a month, or $3 a day. So yesterday, I spent $26.90. That places me in the $20-50 range, being above 80% of the world’s wealth.

That’s pretty astounding. This is in no way to brag about being able to spend this money; it’s to highlight how little the world spends compared to Americans. I assume I am a pretty standard American, and just one iced coffee cost more than 11% of the world spends for the entire day. I take this money for granted every day. IMG_8824-2

I mean, what do you spend each day? I bet it’s more than $10, above 67% of the global population. I’m not sure what to do with this information – what practical steps should I take? But for now, just the realization of global income amounts is astounding. Thoughts?

¹http://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/poverty-and-shared-prosperity, page 3.

²http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/07/08/a-global-middle-class-is-more-promise-than-reality/

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