Most people know deep down that riches are not measured by dollars alone. Having lots of money doesn’t make you rich, it just gives you options. But what does make a person rich? Most folks would say: good health, loving family and friends. While I do agree with this assessment, there are a few more things that I feel make our now living generations richer than previous ones, no matter what our bank accounts look like.
What do we enjoy that our ancestors did not? Here are some of the things I think make us rich.
No war inside our boundaries.
While we have had our share of violence in the country during our lifetimes, there has been no all out war, such as our great-grandfathers suffered during the Civil War or our founding fathers and mothers endured during the Revolution.
Many of us have instant access to much of the world’s knowledge and opinion, via the internet. If knowledge is power, we all have the opportunity to become powerful.
Individual mobile phones that can also take pictures, look up information, tell time, perform calculations and much more are undreamt of tools that can help us save lives, save money and stay in touch.
Entertainment is available at the flip of a switch on the remote. We have access to world wide movies, news, shopping, and other entertainment via satellite or cable television. Our music is crystal clear and available where ever we go. Unlike prior generations, we are not dependent on live plays, in person singers or musicians. We have the very best at our finger tips.
According to the CDC:
“In 1961, children in the United States received vaccines to prevent five diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis, and smallpox.
Now children receive vaccines to prevent 16 conditions: diphtheria; Haemophilus influenza type b, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and human papillomavirus infections; influenza, measles, meningococcal disease, mumps, pertussis, pneumococcal disease, poliomyelitis, rotavirus infections, rubella, tetanus, and varicella Immunization coverage rates among preschool-aged children are high, and most diseases have declined to historically low levels. “
People who suffer life threatening heart attacks now live with minor surgery. My own spouse nearly died of a heart attack in 1999. We called 911, he got help and then a stent, recuperated for a week and has been fine ever since.
Lengthened average life spans.
In 1900, the average lifespan for me was 46 and for women was 48. Today, in 2014 it is 81 years for women and 76 for me.
Along with increased lifespan, we have better quality of life during our spans. We are taller, healthier (in spite of being way too fat), better educated and remain active longer into our elder years.
We can fly coast to coast in less than 6 hours. Our cars easily travel more than 70 miles an hour over smooth, well marked road systems. Our ancestors took months, sometimes a couple of years, to go coast to coast on foot, horseback or covered wagon.
Plentiful food with wide variety.
We are privileged to have access to food from around the world, year round. Oranges and pineapples, delicacies from near and far – whenever we feel like spending the money to get them.
We also have the luxury of having our food prepared for us. Bread, noodles, frozen dinners, pizzas, ice cream, boxed dinners, restaurant food and more await our microwaves for heating in under 3 minutes.
As recently as my parents, folks used to have to haul and heat water for bathing and go outside to use the bathroom. Of course, Mom let us little kids use a chamber pot at night so we didn’t get lost in the dark.
Hot and cold running water and septic and sewer systems make toiletry much more pleasant. How rich would you feel hauling out the chamber pot full of smelly kid’s poop every morning?
Electricity and all of its benefits.
Widespread availability of power for lighting, heating, cooling and running all of our various household appliances lets us live better than kings and queens of old.
We don’t need servants to light our lamps, wash and dry our clothing, clean our dishes, fire up the stove or stand and fan us in the summer time.
Most everyone today, even if you live inside the city, sees wild life. Our ancestors did a pretty good job of using it up in their day. Just in my own lifetime, the populations of many species have grown. We see herds of deer, geese, wild turkey, and many other types of wild life sharing our neighborhoods today – thanks to re-population and conservation techniques implemented in the past century.
What makes your life rich?