We are the 1%

I met with an entrepreneur who has a cool idea.  At the end of our meeting, we started talking about his holiday plans.  He and his family are flying back to Israel for Passover.  He shared with me that his father is a Holocaust survivor.

We then discussed the various trials our respective parents underwent during and after World War II, and how fortunate we both are that we can be entrepreneurs.  We have the luxury of choice.  Our parents largely did not.

That’s when it hit me: all of us are the 1%.

I think the Occupy Wall Street movement raised some important points about economic inequality.  But, most people from my home country of Indonesia would love to have the ability and the time to protest.  But, they cannot.  They’re too busy trying to feed themselves and their children.

Indonesia has one of the world’s largest populations.  Most of its citizens live in unspeakable and crushing poverty.  Many beg in the streets and many children die from illness.  Those children’s parents don’t have time to protest.  Indonesia is in the 99%.  The USA is in the top 1%

It’s funny how we, myself included, always compare “up” vs. “down.”  Those making $50,000 might be envious of those who make $100,000.  The people who make $1 million look at those making $10 million.  And, so on.  The people who make $50,000 rarely compare themselves to those making $50.

I too often compare myself to others.  It’s easy for me to feel jealous.  But, I need to remind myself: I instead could be in Indonesia.

I write this because many of us are heading into the Passover and Good Friday/Easter season.  We’re to gather with family, re-connect with our culture, and try to pass on values to our children.

On this weekend, life is more than just Tweets, emails, blogs, and smartphones.  It’s about something more permanent and lasting, about something from ancient times that touches us still today.  We’re to learn about suffering and the arrival of hope, justice and salvation.

So, in the end, I’m writing this mostly to myself: be grateful.

A happy Passover and Easter to all of us.

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