I was talking to one of my old friends from site yesterday (site= Traveller park up/squat with vehicle access etc.) He tell me he’s really into old Communist stuff these days and he’s been travelling all over Eastern Europe checking the place out. Latvia, Estonia, Albania to name a few of the countries he’s visited. In one of the Baltic states apparently there are still buildings missing that were bombed into rubble. It makes you think doesn’t it? The problems we have in the West are still real but I doubt they’re as stark as the ones you get elsewhere. You see what I mean? They have the sort of problems that equal not eating that night, or freezing to death come winter. If you’re proud of yourself for being a good friendly human being despite the crap you have to put up with imagine what it takes to pull that stunt off in a former Soviet era housing estate. It’s something I think about off and on quite a lot. British people have lived cushioned by the welfare state for a while now. I don’t want to see people have to face the sort of hardship that folks in the former Eastern block or developing countries do. But First World Problems is what we dealing with over here. ‘I’ve lost my job – shall I sign on?’, ‘I’ve got no food what shall I do?’ – well there’s the supermarket skips overflowing with the excess we don’t consume, or any number of food banks. You see what I mean? We deal with debt problems, they deal with starvation problems. What do you do if you injure yourself and you’re in a third world country? You better have some decent friends and neighbours or you have big problems. We think we’re so tough because we deal with our poverty. Well there’s millions who have it tougher on a daily basis. Not that I’m trying to take away anyone’s self respect; there’s enough people who’ll try to do that. It’s just balance what we have to deal with what a lot of foreigners have to put up with I suppose. I think the sad thing is we take it all foregranted. We were born with these things and like you do when you’ve had something from birth you don’t realise what it is or what it took to put it in place. I have my problems with the welfare state. But its tricky, if you were to pull that carpet out from under people it would cause a lot of suffering. Maybe the universal wage like they’re beginning to implement in Finland is the way to go. The greens are into it in Germany as well and its an exciting idea for sure. But what I’m saying is I’m glad I have First World Problems and not the other sort.
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