First World Problems

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A few weeks ago my son came over to visit. We were talking and he began the next part of the conversation with, “Mom, I know this is a First World problem, but…” He then proceeded to talk about something he was thinking about purchasing. After he left, I thought about what he had said as far as First World problems went.

We know that in the Third World, many people suffer from a lack of basic necessities, i.e., sanitation, potable water, food, shelter, safety,  and access to basic medical care. Most people are just trying to survive in desperate circumstances. When we go to one of these countries, we are shocked by the conditions that people are living in; that’s what characterizes the Third World.

In the First World, the average citizen has most of his basic necessities. There are people without adequate health care and some live in areas where they are concerned about safety, but in general, most of us have our basic needs met. We then deal with First World problems such as: “Which house or car should I buy?” “Which doctor should I go to?” Which job should I take, the one I like or the one that pays more?” We can indeed be stressed when we are in the middle of these decisions, but if we ask ourselves the right question, we can lower our stress level. 

When we are stressing over consumer decisions, it would do us well to change our perspective and ask ourselves what kind of a problem are we dealing with…First World or Third World? If it is a First World problem, let’s take a few moments, breathe and take stock. Usually, we are not facing issues of survivability, we are facing issues of desirability. If that is the case, let’s lower the temperature in the room and get a grip.  Yes, we will have to make a decision but it will be one born of choice not of necessity. That knowledge alone should give us a sense of peace.

What kind of problems are you dealing with today…First World or Third World?

43 thoughts on “First World Problems

  1. A great point. Many years ago I went to Mexicali, Mexico on a missions trip. I didn’t have far to go, as I live in Arizona, but it seemed worlds apart once I got there. I was so overwhelmed by the conditions of living that I felt guilty when we stopped at Taco Bell once we crossed back into the U.S. Yes, there is indeed a vast difference between First and Third World problems. Whenever I recognize that I need a dose of reality, I think back to that missions trip and it helps me to re-prioritize my life. Thanks for posting.

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      • There are definitely big problems in this country . The causes that lead to so many homeless people are being ignored. Mental illness , lack of affordable housing , and drug abuse.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Val… Justin is a homeless man on the corner of the road. Dirty. Unkempt. Swathed in an equally dirty blanket. I saw the intelligence in his eyes when he made eye contact with kitty Elsa and I as we were enroute to the vet. Next time I treated him to crisps. Every morning I greeted him. Then one day, his story came to light. Justin is actually a medical doctor Val.
        Another day, i saw him and handed him a naartjie saved especially for him. He took it, kicked it to the floor and played ball with it. My heart was squashed.
        I saw the glaze in his eyes. He was stoned. Perhaps it’s what gets him through these winter months. One thing I could believe because I saw his eyes… He could have killed in the fervor of drugs.
        Still can’t believe how he has not been run down by a car. I think that we all watch out for him. He also has Angels looking after him.

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  2. Definitely first world problems here. I have always felt I have a charmed life. While many have suffered hardships I have never experienced want, homelessness, fear for my life or personal safety. I’ve never been raped, molested, or assaulted. I came from an intact family that loved, supported, protected, and provided my every need and many of my wants. I had a good education, gainful employment and good health (and in those few instances of sickness I had excellent medical care). This has made me even more aware of the struggles of those in third world countries and in dire straights here at home. There but for the grace of God go I.

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  3. 1 Corinthians 10:13

    “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

    We should always view our Problems as to our salvation. Poverty to a degree may actually be very useful, as the fathers mention often. ( I am reading St Macarius 50 homilies on the Holy Spirit at the Moment…) So 1st and 3rd World Problems actually do not differ from a salvation Point of view. There may actually even be more ways to sin in the 1st World in many ways.

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  4. Thanks. I would actually Challenge this phrase: “In the First World, the average citizen has most of his basic necessities.” I need a church! I need a priest! I need a monastery! But people are Just satiated in their own oh so unique Brand of MacDonalds protestantism. There is No church growth anymore , Just the people Egos grow. Their Internet Personalities. Their Fame. I need regular church Services! I need my neighbour telling me what Saints we commemorate today and Tell me Abt their lives. I need…

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      • I know. We have a tendency for this Kind of manicheism. To divide the Spiritual from the physical. We then Fall the physical evil. Or a necessary evil. … The Problem is not “consumerism” or “materialism”… But a consumerist Attitude towards the faith. Going for the easy and greasy instead of the cross of Christ.

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  5. The first thing I thought about after reading your post was the homeless in the US. To me they are like 3rd world and it makes me sick our country doesn’t do more to help them. This has been a huge concern of mine for years. We waste so much money on unnecessary things and people are barely surviving…here and 3rd world!

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  6. It’s sad to think that we are back to such a diliniation of society. You never hear about those “second world” problems! It’s a catch phrase that brings it all back to perspective and I am always grateful for some of that!

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  7. I have actually used that phrase several times in the past week. It changes our perspective when we think about how some of our “problems” are not really problems at all. We have our basic needs met, but we can get so spoiled, at times, when we have more than the basics.

    We are in the process of getting ready to move again, and so we are looking at what we really need vs. what we would like to have. Some things we have now, we are going to have to give up. They have been nice conveniences while we had them, but they aren’t necessary. We are going to go to less than what we have here, but it is still more than what a lot of people have. But, by American standards it is pretty basic. And yet, by other people’s standards from other countries it might be considered luxury. So, I have been giving some thought to what are “first world problems” vs. what we really need to continue doing what we are doing now.

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    • Wow! You really are downsizing! My husband and I downsized four times during a four year period in preparation for moving to Idaho and getting a smaller home there. I’m a minimalist so it wasn’t too hard on me; he is a saver and so it was a bit more difficult. The hardest things for us to get rid of were those things that had emotional attachments to them. I feel for you and will keep you in my prayers today! ❤ ❤ ❤

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  8. It amazed me when I went to Honduras. The live so differently. They will work years for a plot of land. Pay for it. Then go work some more to buy the needed materials. Pay for it build the home sometimes only a section a year or so. Though it took one guy that I met ten years to build a home for his family it was paid for. That home was a mansion down there but would be looked down on here in the states as trash. Sad sad…

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