Monday, March 2, 2009

Giving a Damn

"The greatest predictor of success in life is choosing the right parents. Choosing the right country, right gender, and right skin color is equally important," Mr. Blake tells us in class.

When I'm taking notes in class and I hear or think something worth exploring further, most often only somewhat related to the subject matter, I highlight it in orange. Random insight sometimes comes even in the most boring of classes and I'll highlight it. My Blake class notes are ALL orange.

He went on to say, "A recession and a depression are only mildly different. A recession is when you lose your job. A depression is when I lose my job."

Today reminded me of my utter disgust and frustration over some people's lack of interest in anything that does not effect them directly.

At lunch as I took my tray to the revolving dishwasher that accepts dirty trays, I was overwhelmed by the amount of glass bottles, plastic Naked juice bottles, and other recyclable materials that were just going to be thrown away because Union market does not recycle. Yes, it is 2009. Juggling as many as I could carry, I took them to the recycling facility only blocks away.

We don't care about it, unless it effects us. We throw things away, we flush our toilets, we pour soap down our drains, out-of-sight, out-of-mind, AHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Well, we live on a big planet and yes, the rest of it is "out-of-sight." Having lived in Cambodia, a country with less-than efficient waste management and less-than democratic government, I see things from another angle now. Watching 6-year-olds, wearing dirty rags, dig though the trash changed me. Seeing pre-teen prostitutes line the streets at dusk, headlights flashing upon their pained expressions changed me. Watching Slumdog Millionaire was painful, too familiar.

In class, my friend Kylie, who was a student missionary in Kenya last year, reminded me how excited she is to be visiting Africa next week for spring break. She is surprising her "kiddos" and can't wait to see them and wrap her arms around them.

"I'm so happy for you," I said as tears ambushed my eyes.

She turned to chat with someone, and by the time she faced me again, I was a goner. I slipped out of the room seeking Kleenex. I want to see my kids next week. I would be glad to know I had the chance of ever seeing my kids again.

My kids are those people unable to choose their parents, their country, and their skin color. Those are MY kids. They are the statistics attacked with disease, lack of good education, and poverty. Those are MY kids.

How can I make people care? I can't. Too often Americans are raised in oblivion and disinterest for anyone other than themselves.

Have you noticed the amount of commercials or advertisements now focusing their ad campaigns on saving money? McDonalds splashes their low prices. Even Triscuit crackers announce the price of a healthy snack. Suave shampoo wants in on it too. Oprah has recently been doing several shows on saving money and penny pinching. Americans were completely disinterested with being frugal and spending responsibly until, you guessed it, they were forced to.

So if forcing is the way to go, how can I force people to give a damn?

World vision splashes horrific images on the TV screen. Compassion international apparently "guilts" people into providing food and education for a child half-way around the world. Christian organizations go on mission trips. Missionaries come and tell their stories, but are most often met with disinterest and distrust that "their" money will be used for its actual purpose.

I'm reminded that I only "gave a damn" once I experienced it for myself, but I'm out of ideas besides my latest one, which is to kidnap people, fly them to Cambodia with a pillowcase over their heads, and drop them there for a few months.

Not my best idea I'll admit. I do my worst thinking when I'm sick, tired, and frustrated.

Can you guess how I'm feeling right now?


Katie said...

i read this article in newsweek today and i thought of you.

then i read your blog post and thought of the article. figured it meant you should take a peek. i think you will find it interesting.