If you've stopped by here before, you know that I'm a huge fan of Ingrid Schaffenburg at The Threadbare Gypsy Soul. Recently, she wrote a post on Perspective that lit me up.
Those of us who live in places with clean water, available medicine, paying jobs, even just a little money in the bank and our health should spend most of our days prostrate in gratitude.
Instead too often we bitch and moan when the coffee at the 7 Eleven has been sitting for more than 20 minutes, a store clerk doesn't jump up and snap to attention the minute we walk into the department or a traffic light gets stuck. Ingrid's example about the petty and mean women on an airplane is so common, I'd be willing to bet that anyone who has flown in the last decade could add a similar example. Too many people in America today appear to have lost the capacity for kindness or forbearance. In short, we have lost our perspective.
Perhaps that's where writers (both non-fiction and fiction) can help. Writers can hold up a mirror to demonstrate how good we have it in comparison with how bad life could be. If we pay attention, that could help us maintain proper perspective and avoid getting upset over things that are really not that important.
I recently read a novel that is a prescription for improving perspective: The Wildflowers of Terezin. This novel is set in Denmark during WWII. Most Holocaust stories feature the Evil Germans and the struggle of the Jews to retain some remnant of humanity in the face of the Final Solution. This story is more like Schindler's List in that there is the third leg of the stool: the righteous non-Jews who try to help. Oscar Schindler was one guy. This story features the good people of Denmark who, inspired by their own convictions and encouraged by the Lutheran bishops, try to help their Jewish neighbors.
I read the book all in one sitting. Couldn't put it down. I ended up feeling inspired by the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity. I also felt grateful for living in America today and not Europe a generation past.