12.06.2013

Winter diaries: part 1












Beautiful snow fell a few days ago and promptly melted the next day. The morning it snowed however, I hopped in my car and spent the day road-tripping around Lake Michigan taking photos. It was so peaceful and so cold. I could feel a sore throat coming on so I returned home to spend the rest of my afternoon watching a movie while the snow fell outside. The sore throat turned into body aches, nausea, and sleepless nights. 

I've spent the last few days laid out on the couch, sicker than I've been in years. It's almost as if the world sent me a message in the form of a virus demanding that I slow down and stop traveling. I've had my laptop on my lap looking through photos from the last year in an attempt to find a photo to use as our Christmas card for this year. I thought I could skip out on this, but my husband told me it was part of my wifely duties when I got back from Malawi. I do not get assigned too many wifely duties, actually none to date so far, so I accepted it. 

Besides looking through photos, I've been thinking a lot about my time in Malawi. Still processing the human suffering I witnessed. Wondering what feelings, if any, I should share in this space. I'm still in the habit of taking military showers (to conserve water), relishing in every drop of hot water, not flushing the toilet every time I pee, and constantly reminding myself to drive on the right side of the road- not the left. These past few months living abroad in Africa feeling much different than my experience living abroad in Australia for obvious reasons. I'm overcome with feelings of thankfulness for all I have, for where I live, for the life I live, and the love I share. Now more than ever however, I feel passionately frustrated and at the same time hopeful on the topic of poverty. Humans should not be starving. I know that for sure. Not when engineers can do the seemingly impossible of putting a human on the moon, when companies can mine a rare earth element in Central Africa like lithium then use it to make these incredible smart phones where we can communicate across continents, and corporations can grow enough food to feed the entire earth's growing population. However, it's just not that easy. And those conversations surrounding the "not easy" is what gets me to where I am. Heart and mind bundled up desperately trying to separate emotion from logic. 

It wasn't until I came across this article this week that I felt my feelings were justified. That they weren't some skewed ideas that previous generations would deem utopia-like and un-realistic. Here's a quote from the article that really hit home for me. It was said by a great man generations before me who hailed from a very dark time in his country's history. Surprisingly, unlike most great men during his time, he was able to be an integral part of great changes within his country and survive it. Reading what Nelson Mandela's personal thoughts on poverty were, was like connecting with a childhood friend who knew me better than anyone had ever. It was refreshing to hear someone bring poverty to the level it should be brought- and starting the conversation some time ago now. Mandela called freedom from poverty a "fundamental human right". 

Mandela considered poverty one of the greatest evils in the world, and spoke out against inequality everywhere. “Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils,” he said. He considered ending poverty a basic human duty: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life,” he said. “While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.” (via)

I do believe freedom from poverty is a fundamental human right. While I do not believe there is an easy fix or maybe a fix at all, there is always something I can do toward combating poverty. I'm a big believer that the best place to do it, is in my backyard- where ever that may be. I feel incredibly lucky to have lived in the same lifetime as this great man. Nelson Mandela you will be missed.