Who are the Joneses?

Ever since I was in junior high, I’ve been the kind of person who cuts things out of magazines and plasters them to her wall. As an adult, I try to keep myself from doing this–it isn’t a very “mature” way to decorate, after all–but sometimes I can’t help myself. Often these days, it’s not magazine clippings but quotes, prayers, or scripture. I write them out on index cards and use the old fashioned method of scotch tape to fasten them to the wall right above our computer. I spend a lot of time at the computer, and when my mind wanders or my eyes glaze over, these are good reminders of what is important.

Recently, I came across this page in the Compassion magazine (click on the image to enlarge it).

It’s rather startling. The bottom half of the image is a well-dressed woman’s legs surrounded by beautiful purchases. I particularly love the color coordination. The top half of the image is a woman holding a baby. Neither the mother, the baby, nor the surrounding patchwork-of-scraps-dwelling is clean.

And then the kicker across the middle, going right for the gut:

While we try to keep up with the Joneses, most people just try to survive.

The small print, in case you can’t read it, says, The quest for success often keeps our focus on that next raise, that next house, that next new thing. But if we think we have some catching up to do, we should consider how the other 90 percent of the world lives. See how you stack up to the rest of the world at: whoarethejoneses.org.

This page is now scotch-taped to the wall above my computer, beside an index card of John the Baptist telling the people “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”

If that doesn’t give me a little perspective, I don’t know what will.

It’s a reminder about community, of course, about how distant we often are from our neighbors around the globe, how fortunate we are–and if you’re piddling away time reading blogs, you’re one of the fortunate.

But it’s also about neighbors right here in my little town. Right there in your little town. Or big city.  Or neighborhood. Or church.

They’re here, too.


I encourage you to visit whoarethejoneses.org. When you enter your family’s annual  income, you’ll find out how your income compares to your neighbors in the rest of the world.