You must have a computer if you are going to read this

I was thinking about my column and what to write this week.  I really did not want to deal with the global unrest and protests in the most unlikely places, (including Costa Rica), the “taper tantrum” on Wall Street that has subsided since it looks like they are not going to be weaned from the bottle called “stimulus,” the corruption that renders just about every government on earth ineffective and makes big business prosper, the stupid endless wars on people’s “vices,” how I am struggling to turn my so-called espresso coffee beans into espresso tasting-coffee in my so-called espresso pot.

Besides, I confess, I am fascinated by the George Zimmerman trial in which he is being charged with the second degree murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.  Trials fascinate me.  In between, I was in the throes of trying to cook some authentically delicious beans.  I think I added one too many ingredients.

As I was multitasking all of this, I came across a file in my documents labeled “from Mavis.”  So I opened it.

It said “This might help when you can’t think of a topic for your column.   Love, MB.”

In her last years, Mavis Biesanz and I used to talk on the phone almost daily. She buoyed me up, made me laugh and was forever helpful.  So, thanks again, Mavis.

What followed was an article that her friend Margaret Nydell sent to her on September 6, 2006.  (Nydell is the author of “Understanding Arabs,” a book every Westerner who favors knowledge over prejudice, would appreciate.)

The article was entitled “Earth Status report – 2006″

“If the population of the Earth was reduced to that of a small town with 100 people, it would look something like this:

57% Asians
21% Europeans
14% Americans (northern and southern)
8% Africans
52% women 48% men
70% colored-skins  30% Caucasians
89% heterosexuals 11% homosexuals

Six people would own 59% of the whole town’s wealth, and all of them will be from the United States of America
80% would have bad living conditions
70% would be uneducated
50% underfed
1 would die
2 would be born
1 would have a computer
1 (only one) will have higher education

“When you look at the world from this point of view, you can  see there is a real need for solidarity, understanding, patience and education.

“Also think about the following:

This morning, if you woke up healthy, then you are happier than the 1 million people that will not survive next week.

If you never suffered a war, the loneliness of the jail cell, the agony of torture, or hunger, you are happier than 500 million people in the world.

If you can enter a church (mosque, synagogue) without fear of jail or death, you are happier than 3 million people in the world.

If there is food in your fridge, you have shoes and clothes, you have a bed and a roof, you are richer than 75% of the people in the world.

If you have a bank account, money in your wallet and some coins in the money-box, you belong to the 8% of the people on the world, who are well-to-do.

If you read this, you are three times blessed because:

1. Somebody just thought of you (that was me.)
2. You are not one of the 200 million people who cannot read.
3 ….. and, you have a computer!”

That was the world in 2006.  It would be hard to argue that things have improved, unless you consider that many more people have computers or are connected via the Internet one way or another a positive change.

The file ends with this advice from someone (and you might consider it even if you think the world is going to hell in an empty bread basket):  “Work like you don’t need the money.  Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.  Sing like nobody’s listening, and live like it’s Heaven on Earth.”

There are now people who are as rich as Croesus, not all from the United States, and there are people as poor as church mice (to coin a couple of phrases.)

The above statistics do not include the number of fish in the oceans, animals that are not extinct or land that is arable.  But the message seems to be, if you can read this, you are doing okay.

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