The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Changing legacies toward happiness

Viewpoint by Katie Hudson-Martinez/feature editor

It is easy to become so self-absorbed with our problems we fail to see the struggles of others in comparison.

We are overworked and underpaid. Or are we? Workers in Mexico received a minimum wage of $5 per day last year. People in Turkey made $110 per week no matter how long they worked. Many industrialized countries don’t even have a minimum wage.

We complain about the price of gas without realizing we enjoy some of the cheapest gas prices in the world among countries that do not produce large quantities of oil. Drivers in the U.K. paid an average of $7.49 per gallon last year, and in Norway gas cost $8.49 per gallon. Those poor people in Turkey earning $110 per week had to pay $10 per gallon.

We lust after plasma TVs, laptops and iPods while a mother in Africa watches her baby starve to death because she is too malnourished and unhealthy to produce adequate milk.

Our houses are never big enough while families in the slums of Indonesia live in a one-room shack with no electricity or running water.

We have become the spoiled child who wants everything immediately; the co-worker who makes more money than everyone else and constantly complains about not making enough. Or the fair-weather friend who every time someone tries to discuss a serious problem interrupts to talk about himself.

How many people will change the channel when the Save the Children commercial comes on, only to pick up the phone and order the amazing diet pill or pimple cream advertised on the next?

As Americans we live in a materialistic, often self-centered society. We are the wealthiest nation in the world, but according to recent studies, not the happiest. Of all the countries in the world, we rank 19th in happiness. 

Denmark, which has no minimum wage, some of the highest income tax rates in the world at 50-70 percent and an average $7.44 per gallon for gas ranked No. 1. Many have attributed this to the mentality in Denmark of Jante-lov, “you are no better than anyone else.” It is a friend- and family-motivated society where blatant materialism is foreign.

We are almost never satisfied by material possessions we covet, and we seem to have lost something on the road to being the greatest super-power in the world.

It’s time to reassess who we are and what kind of legacy we want to leave. Do we want the next generation of Americans to worry more about fancy cars or clothes are or do we want them to be well-grounded, compassionate and happy people?

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