I received a survey in the mail this week that asked the question, “Are things getting and better?” The question wasn’t that direct, but the intention was clear. It occurred to me that my answer will differ from another person by the way we choose to define “things” and “better,” because my things will differ from yours, and better is a very relative term. My perspective at the moment the question is asked will play a big part in the answer too.
If I choose definition of “things” to be narrowly focused – my waistline or retirement account, then I might conclude things are not getting better, since one is increasing and the other decreasing (guess which is increasing).
If my perspective only comes from MSNBC, then I will conclude that things are getting worse, and it is the other guy’s fault.
If my perspective only comes from Fox TV, then things are bad, going to get even worse, but it is the other guy’s (a different other guy) fault.
If I listen to Jerry Brown then I just get confused.
The problem is that these TV, radio, and internet programs don’t discuss the things that are really important to me; the items that are at the top of my list. More importantly, they can’t know who is on my list. To decide the priorities on my list, I ask myself: If there were an 8.0 earthquake in Northern California, what would be my first priority? Where would I go first and who would I need to find? I would need to find my family and friends to be certain they were safe and unharmed. I would not check the value of the S&P 500, the opinion of the person currently in the White House, the news from Afghanistan or what the Kardashian’s are wearing today. Nope – first family and friends. Of course, that was an easy question, because in an emergency we will always turn towards the people we love. We will reach for the most important “thing.”
So then, what is “better?” Better is not necessarily more money, a smaller dress size (not mine), a promotion, or white teeth – a higher GDP, lower unemployment, a Congress that does its job – a rising stock market, increasing401k, or improving home value. Better might be one of those outcomes just mentioned, but maybe not when the outcome is matched with the “thing” on the top of our list. How do I define better for those I love? Not by the S&P 500.
Thus the question should be:
Are the people that are closest to me healthy, safe, prospering with integrity, and do they know that I love them? Do they know God?
Now, my answer: Yes, things are getting better.
Thank for reading.