Spam, Pop-Tarts and Mayo Sandwiches: An American Test of Mettle

Let me say immediately that I was not on the ill-fated Splendor, the Carnival cruise ship that had a fire and lost power at sea for several days, docking yesterday in San Diego.  I’ve been right here at home with functioning toilets, heat, hot water, down comforter, clean clothes and enough food.  So who am I to talk? Okay, we’ve gotten that out of the way.

Now let me talk: crises test our mettle, and we Americans are a bit soft.  I’m at the top of that list.  I have mice in my house right now, and I feel as if I’ve been invaded by a treacherous enemy.  I’m not stoic about mice.  I don’t even have a sense of humor about my lack of stoicism.  And what a ridiculous word applied to mice in one’s kitchen: “stoicism.”  Ah, the tragic trials of my life!

I have a friend who told me of rats running across her body as she tried to rest on a field during the night after Haiti’s recent earthquake.  And that was one night.  Many people all over the world live with rats and mice as a constant.  I just read a chilling article about rats in Mozambique and how, often, hundreds of them share space in a house with several people, eating and depleting human food sources and spreading disease through bites and through raining down feces and urine on the people.  My mice probably won’t ruin my life, now that I think of it in perspective.

What freaks us out in America that is normal for most of the world?  We have a shorthand phrase in our family: “rich people’s problems.”  For most of ours are.  And when middle-class Americans claim that we’re not rich, we’re wrong. Check out this study of world wealth distribution. One fact from it: it takes $2200 to be in the top half of the world in wealth ranking.  It takes $61,000 to be in the top 10%.  The bottom half of the world has less than 1% of the wealth.

So truly, I’m impressed by the people who took the Splendor “disaster” in stride. Some even found it an adventure (I imagine this latter category was high on children).  One thing I love about kids is that they don’t have the expectations of what something’s supposed to be like, so a big ship full of people and a “Kid’s Club” is an adventure, whereas their parents expected some level of pampering beyond plunging one’s own toilet and are (understandably) disappointed and hoping for a re-do.  I do have empathy for a (perhaps rare) vacation ruined.  I am glad I wasn’t on the ship.

Yet we all have our own tests of mettle, and here in America many of us (at least among the population who have time or a computer to read this blog) have tests for which the rest of the world would gladly trade.

Haitian mothers who mix dirt with salt and shortening to feed their families would be mighty delighted with the emergency food on the Splendor: Spam, Pop-Tarts and mayo sandwiches would fill some empty bellies.

But we expect more.  I loved a quote from Cher (yes, Cher) in the latest Vanity Fair: “If you’re not worrying about how to put food on your table, you [should be] worrying about why other people don’t have food on their table.”

Oh, I’m so convicted cause I’m afraid I would have balked at the mayo sandwiches, whined about the cold showers and then freaked out when I came home and found mouse droppings in my kitchen.  I want to be the sort of person in whom the work of the Holy Spirit is thoroughly evident with all that good fruit that Galatians describes (5:22, 23), and I want that to be the leading edge when I face a crisis, whether a cruise ship crisis or a serious one.

~ by Cary on November 12, 2010.

11 Responses to “Spam, Pop-Tarts and Mayo Sandwiches: An American Test of Mettle”

  1. That sister can preach. Guard your toes!

  2. the world does go on beyond broken cars and hard drives. Thanks for your perspective. But seriously…what’s with the mice plague?

  3. I’m with the “that sister can preach” comment (I think she could be referring to ‘stepping on toes’:). Thank you for inviting us to more!

  4. Well, am I stepping on toes or waiting for my own to be squished. Or stomping my own, as I’d hoped to do.

  5. I’d say you proved your mettle in the way you handled your “disastrous” car crisis. This is so well put – and impactful on me personally. Thanks 😉

  6. Once again, your post challenges me in a way I need to be challenged. Thanks, dear sister.

  7. Congratulations! You’ve completely ruined my ex-pat worry of the day – is my Chinese good enough to speak to my ayi about sorting the whites from the darks when she does my laundry? Thanks for helping me find the ground under my feet while stepping on my toes.

  8. […] wrote about this last week (Spam, Pop-Tarts and Mayo Sandwiches: An American Test of Mettle), and it’s still true a week later: whoever we are inside, beyond the pretty packaging, is […]

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