In my country, we have a rampant unemployment problem. I mean really. It's bad. Add to that the fact that pensions and welfare barely covers the cost of survival... and it gives you an idea of the absolute nightmare it is to be on the wrong side of the bread-line. (Especially when minimum wage comes into play, but I'm not going to debate the pros and cons of minimum wage.)
The thing is that South Africa is generally seen as a place of opportunity. In a sense, it is. The problem is, however, that sometimes, this point of view leads to this idea that if somehow you're struggling, it's all your fault because opportunity is "ripe for the picking." This from the point of view of a lucky few who actually had access to these opportunities.
And no, I'm not talking about race, either. This thinking goes everywhere. The result is that often, the suffering of the people around us go unnoticed. Of course, this isn't helped by the fact that there are people who cynically try and rip people off a la Thenardier from Les Mis. They do muddle things up way too much, and make people in general so cynical that they look over the people who are suffering.
But last year, I've come to realize just how easy it is to lose everything due to things completely beyond our control. We lost last year due to a variety of factors - not limited to breaches of various contracts. We lost HUGE. Which is part of the reason why it's taking me six months to come to terms with last year.
And yet, I feel so fortunate.
Because we had those resources to lose. More than that, we're still in a state where we can bounce back.
A lot of people in my country would starve if a few elderly people didn't get their monthly state pensions to $120 per month. (Actually less, depending on the exchange rate.)
There aren't enough jobs for the untrained. There aren't jobs for the school leavers. There aren't enough resources for most people to bounce back after a bad year.
And that worries me. Because I've seen how fast and how far I fell this year alone. I've had a mere taste of the misery that cause, and I know that people are experiencing year after year of this.
Last year truly has opened my eyes to the suffering of others, because I could so easily have ended up in the same place, if not for God's grace.
The problem is...I don't know how to help anyone else.
Not yet, anyway. I'm working on it.