Monday, October 11, 2004

Parental Controls??

Okay, so in my welcome note, I mentioned the time my friends' son, 4 years old, turned on Jerry Springer while I was visiting their home in Ghana. Interesting cross cultural phenomenon... The mother didn't even realize what he was watching until I mentioned it, because she runs a catering business from her home and was occupied with cooking, etc. The boy, when asked, told me he watches this every day, because it's funny. The Jerry Springer Show funny to a 4-year-old?! Of course, the mother made him flip it when she realized what it was. But it was interesting to me that so many American parents complain about television saying they don't have time to stand over the TV and screen what their kids watch, and here was the same phenomenon in Africa!

Of course, it also should be said that most Americans can't imagine what constitutes a hard days work for most Africans. Those people really know how to work hard. It is amazing. Most people work from before 7 in the morning to 5 or 6 at night then do housework, raise kids, help with homework, etc. Sometimes the kids come home from school and go to work.

I think a lot of other cultures work harder than the average American does. (This readily includes myself!) In Brazil, according to a news article I read several months ago, the average workday is 17 hours! That means, most Brazilians have never heard of 8 hours of sleep! They are probably lucky to get 4 hours! And this is a regular reality in which they live.

The saying: "We live in a culture of leisure" takes on a whole new meaning in the face of this, doesn't it? I am not saying people don't work hard here, but the standards and necessity are different. The average Ghanaian worker makes $40 a month. That feeds a family of 3-7 children (or more) and the parents. The average Brazilian, last I read, makes around $200 per month. And it takes all those extra hours of hard work just to earn that. Yet I don't know any American who could get by on $200/month, let alone $40/month.

We really do have to count our blessings, I think. And do what we can, when given the opportunity, to help those people around the world who are less fortunate than we are.

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