You may have started reading this article in slight disagreement with its title. You may well be thinking that our generation is definitely not spoilt or you may feel you’ve seen enough in your life to suggest that we are.
It’s no secret that the standard and cost of living is continuing to increase. The more money people earn, the more opportunities become open to them. We now use money for more than the bare essentials of shelter, food and clothing. Luxuries have seamlessly integrated into normal life, causing us difficulty with differentiating between things we need and things we think we need.
Despite this, I don’t think there’s a big problem in the developed world. I wanted an Xbox 360 purely because half my class had one – I didn’t want to miss out on the fun my friends were having on this new console. To some, this wouldn’t be classed as being ‘spoiled’ – it may be a primitive instinct to feel equal to others. When people started buying TVs, did others avoid or embrace them? TVs quickly became a necessity, just as computers are now.
Greater issues arise when we compare ourselves with those who aren’t as lucky as us. And, yes, it’s luck we’re talking about. I won’t deny that success requires hard work and determination – you need the right mindset to create a network of people you care about and who care for you – but it’s luck which provides the initial opportunity. So who’s looking out for those who aren’t as lucky as us? What happens to those overcome by corruption or those who are too poor to take a rare opportunity? And what about the family businesses that do nothing more than survive? These people lack opportunities, and often can’t take them when they come around.
Nonetheless, I have no problem with our increased living standards – if we’ve deservedly earned our money then we can spend it on enhancing our lives – but we should never lose sight of the bare necessities. I’m more concerned about what we can learn from developing countries, where people see life very differently from us. They value family, food and shelter, whereas we value mobile phones, internet connectivity and alcoholic beverages. Let’s be thankful that we’re in such comfort, and let’s be grateful for the breadth of opportunities open to us.
When I think of the developing world, I question why we’re not doing more to bridge the gap. It takes a huge, bold statement from someone at the forefront of today’s society to make a difference. When I set up my Macbook, the first thing I did [ironically] was watch BBC Panorama investigate Apple’s production line ethics. Why aren’t Apple, who make billions in profit ($18bn for Q1 of 2015) , doing more to show that they value everyone in their business? Does all that profit need to go to the bosses with their luxurious lifestyles? Or should it be invested in providing developing countries with a template for which to aim? It only takes one company’s decision for others to follow.
I believe it is absolutely essential for us to step back and really appreciate everything we’ve done, what we have now, and the beckoning opportunities ahead of us. I could not be more thankful for the parents I have. I look back on my childhood and I’m grateful for what I’ve been able to do, especially when I picture my dad growing up in a chippy. I’m most appreciative, however, of how I’ve had this realisation at this stage of my life. But this epiphany is not the end – we have to constantly remind ourselves of the good fortune we have, and that requires a considered thought process. Life is certainly not about taking – it’s about recognising what you can do for others and what they do for you. We have so many opportunities open to us these days that if they aren’t being embraced, we can never say that we were deprived of them.
I’m glad that I can take time to appreciate the things I have in my life. I now have a chance to make my parents proud of the family they’ve brought up, and I hope I fulfil both their dreams and my own ambitions.
Apple Press Info (2015) http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2015/01/27Apple-Reports-Record-First-Quarter-Results.html
Thanks to Calum Johnson and Jonny Fielding.