If you have nothing more than good health and the love and affection of your family, you have much to be grateful for. But take a moment, too, to marvel at how fortunate we are just to have been born in the modern era…

Our ancestors four generations removed would marvel at contemporary life: Unlimited food at affordable prices… plagues that killed millions – polio, smallpox, measles, rickets – all but eradicated… the end of backbreaking physical toil for most wage earners... the advent of instantaneous global communication and same-day travel to distant cities... mass home ownership with central heat and air and limitless modern conveniences… senior citizens cared for financially and medically, ending the fear of impoverished old age.

And let’s not forget how advances in medical technology and nutrition have created the greatest human accomplishment of all time – the near doubling of the average lifespan over the last hundred years. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the average American lived just 41 years.

Let’s appreciate, too, the many political freedoms – denied to millions around the world – we enjoy today: freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and freedom from conscription, among others.

Sure, the federal government has become too big, too intrusive, and too coercive. But let’s put things in perspective. Even David Boaz of the libertarian Cato Institute writes that “Americans today are more free than any people in history. We should take a moment to reflect on our history, and celebrate what we’ve achieved after centuries of hard work and political struggle.”

Let’s be grateful, too, that we live in a capitalistic society, where we have the opportunity to pursue our dreams, our economic interests, and financial independence.

Of course, the true embodiment of capitalism – private ownership of the means of production and distribution – is the stock market, which gives us the opportunity to own a business without becoming an entrepreneur… without raising capital… without hiring and managing people... without even showing up for work!

Who doesn’t appreciate that?

Yes, today we are the freest, wealthiest people who have ever lived. We all have much to be grateful for.

So perhaps we should also take a moment today to consider the plight of tens of millions of people who enjoy none of these blessings…

Our Brothers and Sisters In Need

In Somalia, for example, Fatima Usman, a 23-year old mother, has lost two children to hunger and a third to cholera. “I am praying to God that he will not take this baby yet,” she says, cradling her 4-month-old son. She is one of more than 1 million Somalis displaced by an Islamist insurgency against a corrupt government.

In Darfur, more than 2 million people have been driven from their homes. Fighting is increasing across the region and the people of Darfur are suffering violence, atrocities and abduction.

In Bangladesh, a Category 4 cyclone recently triggered a 16-foot tidal surge that devastated three coastal towns and forced millions from their homes. Thousands are dead and many thousands more are missing.

In Iraq, more than 2.5 million people have been uprooted due to sectarian violence. Many are living in Jordan or Syria. They have no legal status and many of them are desperate for food, medicine, jobs and a safe place to live.

In the Congo, rebel groups are engaged in fierce fighting with government forces. Here more than 370,000 people have been displaced. Children are torn from their families and conscripted. Women and girls are routinely abducted and assaulted.

We tend not to think too much about these people – these brothers and sisters of ours – because their tragedies are so far removed from our own lives... and so appalling to contemplate.

Fortunately, there is an organization – founded in 1933 at the suggestion of Albert Einstein – that provides a critical global network of first responders to humanitarian crises around the world…

The International Rescue Committee (IRC)

For over 70 years, the IRC has served refugees and communities victimized by oppression or violent conflict. It is the world’s recognized leader in humanitarian emergencies. When thousands run from natural disasters, war or repression, the IRC is there, providing food and water, shelter, healthcare and education to displaced people.

Today the IRC is on the ground in 25 countries, providing emergency relief, relocating refugees and rebuilding lives in the wake of disaster.

In Darfur, for example, the IRC is providing shelter and emergency relief to more than 740,000 refugees. In Iraq, the IRC is aiding families fleeing the crossfire between warring factions. In the Congo, it is liberating child soldiers and returning them to their families. The IRC is treating over 8,000 Rwandan children every month who are slowly recovering from a brutal genocide. And in Afghanistan, thousands of children – girls included – are finally getting educated in IRC supported schools.

I challenge you to find an organization more deserving of your support.

We’ve all seen heartbreaking images from Africa and other godforsaken parts of the world. We’ve seen them so often, in fact, that many of us have become jaded. Or we are reluctant to give because their governments are so famously corrupt.

But these pathetic souls didn’t choose their governments. More importantly, the IRC goes in – at considerable risk to its workers – and aids these people directly. None of your contributions are handled by a government agency.

Nor does your donation filter through a bloated bureaucracy. Over 90 cents of every dollar the IRC spends goes directly into programs that benefit refugees.

You can learn more about the International Rescue Committee and its important work by visiting their website. In fact, they’ve provided us with this unique link so you can make a donation.

Your gift, of course, is fully tax-deductible.

If you prefer, you can give automatically by having your credit card drafted each month, as I do. Here’s how.

I realize that there are hundreds of worthy causes out there competing for your money and attention. So let me make this simple plea:

Please take a moment to share your good fortune by visiting the IRC website today. Give whatever you can.

And I promise you this. You’ll feel richer when you do.


Author's Bio: 

Alexander Green has just launched Spiritual Wealth (www.spiritualwealth.com).

What is “Spiritual Wealth,” exactly?
According to Alex:
"Anything that can be measured in dollars and cents, I call material wealth. Everything else – the love of our families, the health we enjoy, the time we spend doing things we enjoy or working on things that really matter – I call spiritual wealth."

Alex is also the Chairman of Investment U, where his actionable investment ideas are published three times a week. He’s the Investment Director of The Oxford Club, as well, where he’s beaten the S&P 500 nearly 5-to-1 over the last five years.

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