Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I can't help myself

More quotables from the week:

While watching a married couple join hands and walk into the mall after we dropped them off:
"Why are they holding hands"-Mary
"So they don't get seperated. Like, you know, so one doesn't go one way and the other the other way"-Jake

While handing jake his ARV meds to take in the back of the car
"Will I die if I don't take this medicine"-Jake
"You can get sick if you don't, Jake"-Me
"You'll be fine"-Mary
"No, my mom and dad didn't take this medicine and they died"-Jake

ouch. my heart.

While driving past a few women...
"Look at that girls bum with the long pants. Her bum is going chi-chaw-chi-chaw chi-chaw"-Jake

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A first time for everything

As you know (or may not know, I suppose), I rarely raise my voice too loud about how I feel regarding the politics surrounding the poverty I see on a daily basis. I'm not the most informed person in the world, I've been fed the same statistics as you on just how poor the people on the continent of Africa are. I've steadied myself trying to focus on the people, the ones right in front of me, but I can't lie and say I feel a bit sad [read:mad, outraged, etc...] when I hear comments about how people in America suffer too, or the question that requires a lot of personal restraint; "Why don't you help the people in your own country instead of going to Africa?"

If that's you, if that's what you think, please come here. Please take a glimpse of the day to day reality of how these people live. Don't watch it on a TV that you can change stations and forget about it by the time the next commercial ends, don't google it and try to relate to some obscure figure of numbers aimed at horrifying its audience, numbers that get thrown on a growing pile of information that doesn't actually impact anyone.
You don't even have to come here, read a book, a blog, something a tad more personal then a 30 second clip.
Then let it lead you into action.

Here's another idea, help those people who need it right in your own backyard rather then wonder why people leave to go serve elsewhere. Whatever it takes to bring action, do that. If we all do something, we may actually have an impact on the world. If we just talk about it, well, thats plain silly.

People in the church, you will be held even more responsible. I read somewhere that God's call, His will, isn't something you hear. Its His word, its there for everyone in black and white. His will for your life is for you to serve. Period. It doesn't matter where it is, that part He'll tell you. But listen, and act. Please. Yes there are people in America and all over the world who need help, is this something that actually causes a burden on your heart? Do you cry for them? Do you help them? Or do we post another random set of numbers as our facebook status and get 20 reactions agreeing with us, leading us all to....??

I am not accusing anyone of anything, which is why I never take this stance when I post. I don't like to feel argumentative, and I suppose I could give you some background as to what is fuelling this little flame of mine. In his book, Race Against Time, Stephen Lewis gives statistics aimed at actually opening our eyes to the problem in Africa. I can't stop thinking about one in particular. I read it 3 days ago, and still, for some reason, it is my answer to the question and comments I listed above in regards to serving in Africa.

(written in 2005) "At present, the European Union and United States together subsidize their farmers to the tune of $350 billion (U.S. dollars) a year; it equals five times the amount that is ploughed into foreign aid. If I may offer an evocative juxtaposition: Every cow in the European Union is subsidized to the tune of $2 dollars a day, while between 400 million and 500 million Africans live on less than a dollar per day."
And that's families living on less then a dollar per day, by the way.

Oh, how I wish I could organize my thoughts right now, there is just too much though. I want to tell you what living on 1 dollar a day looks like. Worried about our politics? How about not having a way to even prove your identity because you don't get birth certificates when you're born in the bush. Without an identity card, you have no rights to vote. Not that it matters in a lot of the countries that are corrupt.
Worried about health care? How about waiting on the floor of a dirty emergency room with a broken arm, bone sticking out through your skin, and dying three days later because you couldn't find anyone to bring you the 10 or 20 dollars it would take to be seen by a doctor. The same doctor who walked past as your body was ravaged with infection, painfully taking your life over those three days.
Against the war? Upset for our soldiers? What about the children who are being kidnapped, drugged, forced to kill each other, all in order to desensitize them and make them into 7, 8, 9 year old killing machines. That's not just for the movies, Blood Diamond didn't make that worse then it really is. It is happening today, right now as you read.
We've all heard about the AIDS problem. Some have even been known to say its their own fault, some of us here blame traditions and unsafe sex and a host of other human conditions that lead to this crisis. As I stood in an AIDS clinic yesterday, my heart registered a whole new emotion. Yes, many peoples bad decisions led them to becoming infected, but that's not what I saw. I saw the little toddlers with their mamas waiting in the yellow chairs, the chairs in the queue designated to pediatric patients. There is an entire generation who did not choose badly, who do not deserve to inherit this growing problem. But they did.

I'm not anti-America. I'm not trying to de-merit our soldiers or make it seem like I am against my own country. If anything, honestly, I can appreciate now more than ever my country and all the good things we have. Why does it have to be one or the other, I wonder? There is corruption on both sides of the ocean. There is pain, there is joy, there is unjust death and unfair politics. The point of all of this is, regardless of anything else, is there is a need. Whether its in the Middle East, Africa, or on Boston Common, we need to answer the call that is already written. Mother Theresa said 'If you can't feed one hundred people then just feed one'. We can all do that. If you have access to a computer and you are reading this, you are better off then millions upon millions of people in this world. Find an organization who is trustworthy and already doing something you believe in. Support them, talk about them, lets inspire action instead of a few minutes of pity for people. Actually give up one of your 5 dollar coffees a day and put the money aside for a greater good. Don't just read the statistics, research them and then put yourself into the shoes of the people and ponder what it would actually be like to live a different life.

What I have learned here, and what I hope resonates in my actions in words, is that we should be thankful for what we do have. When you sit in the doctors office and flip through magazines, be thankful you have the access to health care you do. Not because there are people who don't, but just because you should be thankful for something like that. If we change our attitudes to ones of gratefulness, our actions will reflect it. Only then will we change anything.