30 November 2012


In Vietnamese, there is a phrase "Nhà giàu đứt tay, ăn mày đổ ruột", which means "the rich suffers a cut on the hand, like the poor taking a knife stab in the stomach".  It is all relative, is it not?  Something that may be a big deal to someone can be so insignificant to another.

In developed nations like the U.S., THE first-world, there are problems which are sometimes considered serious, but are actually pretty trivial.  Like forgetting to TiVo your favorite TV show.  Or having to get out of the car to knock on your date's door because when you called her on the cell phone she did not answer the call.  Or running out of topic to write about for your wildly popular blog.  In most places in the Third-World, people don't have enough to eat or no places to live.  Even in the First-Worlds, there are homeless people with more urgent problems.  Don't forget people affected by natural disasters, too.

Although I've lived in the U.S. for over thirty years, I am glad I don't have first-world problems.  Or at least I don't make a big deal when I have them.  Having grown up in Viet Nam, with a few years under Communist rule, then almost a year in the refugee camps of Indonesia, I know what it is like not to have much possession.  Or to have just the bare minimum to get by.  Nope, no First-World Problems for me here.  I already come up with a blog post, did I not?

By the way, note my frequent use of the hyphen.  I think it should be used more often.  It helps connect words better.  Take "first world problem".  So there are underdeveloped nations that are considered the Third Word, backward places where there are many poor people.  Then you also have the First World, developed nations that boasts creature comfort like indoor plumbing, high speed Internet access, etc.  "First world problems" are problems found in the First World, no?  But can it also mean a worldwide problem that ranks first?  The hyphen helps keep "first" and "world" together.  It may be fun to interpret "nowhere" as "now here" but for clarity purpose I think the hyphen should be used more often.

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