My grandfather had to flee China after Communists took over in 1949, but his misfortune didn’t embitter him.

He had fought against the invading Japanese in World War II. He should have been honored as a hero in his homeland.

But the Communists wanted to kill him. He was a Nationalist army officer, a former teacher and a landowner. He stood for everything they hated.

He couldn’t complain to a local newspaper or town council about his problem. So he ran for his life.

A friend helped him escape. That man ended up dying in a labor camp.

Whiners galore

I think about my grandfather when I hear people go overboard with their peeves.

They whine about trivial things, like Berwick High football game losses and the Bloomsburg Fair’s $8 admission fee.

Why are people in Columbia and Montour counties so grouchy? They make more money and live longer than many of Earth’s 7 billion inhabitants.

The average worker made $52,800 in Montour and $32,900 in Columbia during 2010, the U.S. Department of Commerce says.

The average U.S. wage was $47,000 that year. That’s 161 percent more than the world’s average wage, which was less than $18,000 a year, the United Nations reported.

Mothers’ worries

A reader recently groused that our paper didn’t send a reporter and photographer to her son’s karate school exam.

Mothers in other countries worry if their babies will live through infancy.

Afghanistan has 146.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births — the world’s worst rate, the U.N. says. India’s rate is 49.5 deaths per 1,000 births.

So few babies die in Columbia and Montour, we have no official infant mortality rate. In 2009, only eight infants died in Columbia; two died in Montour.

We live longer

As an American, you can expect to outlive many people. Your life expectancy is 82 years if you’re a woman, 78 years if you’re a man.

An Afghan can only hope to live 45.5 years, the U.N. says.

Also, you’ll probably outlive the average Russian (female: 75; male: 63); Chinese (female: 76; male: 72); and Mexican (female: 80; male: 75).

Quit whining!

After my grandfather escaped from China, he started over from scratch in Hong Kong, and later in the Bronx, New York City.

He never complained. He raised a family and became a U.S. citizen.

Contrast his resilience with this anonymous whiner in 30 Seconds: “(T)here is a lot of Australians doing vacuum cleaner and other commercials … Why can’t it just be an American?”

In North Korea, people who grouse about high food prices and spendthrift politicians might get a bullet in the head.

The 85,600 people of Columbia and Montour should be grateful for their good fortune.

Next time you pity yourself, just remember, you’re much better off than the world’s average guy and gal.

Gary Pang is glad he moved to America as a boy. What a great country! He can be reached at 387-1234 ext. 1343 and at

Column ran May 26, 2012, in the Press Enterprise

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