First World Problems

The concept of being a First World Nation and what we view as our problems and challenges came up at the dinner table last week.

I was vaguely familiar with term, and after doing some research leaned that it actually harkens back to the Cold War Era and referred to the countries allied with the United States during that time. The term now refers to nations that possess highly developed societies, are capitalistic in nature, industrialized, influential, and prosperous. (For more information on which countries are included and various related statistics check here.)

We all know that Third World Nations generally deal with problems of poverty, low standard of living, governmental and/or religious oppression, lack of educational and employment opportunities, and many other issues. Their problems are often as critical as insufficient water and food and fear for their lives since many of their nations suffer from wars and political oppression.

But what are problems First World Nations encounter and how do they differ from Third World problems?

  • Suffering from obesity rather than starvation
  • Looking in a closet packed with clothing and whining about nothing to wear as opposed to owning only the clothes covering your body
  • Complaining about the long line at the DMV instead of never even imagining owning a car
  • Huffing and puffing over a slow wi-fi connection while our Third World brothers and sisters have their internet blocked by the government, or they can't afford a computer, or they are illiterate.
Do you see the disconnect? We "suffer" from abundance while they suffer from want. If you're anything like me, you're going to start thinking twice before complaining about your Starbucks order being wrong or the grocery store being out of your favorite brand of cereal.

We need a transition in our thinking. We need a revival of gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness - and giving. We need to give more, demand less, and keep our perspective straight.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. - Phil 2:4,5 (KJV)


  1. What a great post. I want to be more thankful. College paperwork blues, lack of a car or computer for college student, etc. really isn't suffering.

    1. The depth of our ingratitude is startling when we step back to critically re-evaluate our lives.

  2. Great insight and really makes us (me) think.

  3. I think about these differences a lot. Almost everyone I know considers themselves to be middle class or poorer, yet we are all richer than rich compared to most people on the planet.

    1. The majority of U.S. citizens are 97% richer than people in the rest of the world. A startling realization, but we still don't feel like we have enough.

  4. One thing I am learning is to be thankful for what I already have which is totally more then a lot compared to the rest of the world. Also I am finding this makes me a better steward of what I have and a better giver. Good post Elizabeth

  5. Excellent. One word sums up First World problems - gluttony. In food, money, stuff, arrogance. We have/want too much of everything, and have no appreciation for the giver of all gifts - God. If only we could turn it all around, but it really demands a change of heart, which only God can do. People need to be open to His call.