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Published: December 31st 2018
The never ending dilemma, “What is my responsibility?” and "Can anything explain why I have the opportunities I do besides random chance?" I am excited to leave Uganda, to go back to normal toilets, access to clean drinking water from the tap, convenience of firm departure times. But how do I forget the power of the American dollar (average rent $40 - $100; monthly income $250, a semester at college $1300), malaria and typhoid, most don’t have access to indoor plumbing or electricity? The things occupying the mind here are things that never crossed my mind: getting water, how to study without electricity, missing a week of school each month because I don’t have menstral pads. While I am not wealthy in the states, I am actually rich compared to the global population. Why? Because I have money in my pocket. Why? Random chance of birth, my parents able to provide and help me. As I leave I have 2 choices: forget and live as always or think about my obligation due to randomness. What is my obligation? My obligation is not to bring the first world here because who says it is better? Recently, someone argued walls differentiate between good and bad. I couldn‘t disagree more. Who is the judge of good and bad? Walls differentiate between choices and consequences. Consequences are not good or bad but outcomes. Our Western world provides better health outcomes, less time on daily needs, but what do we use that time for, what does our healthcare cost and who has access? Here the kids play outside, everyone has responsibilities to help the family function, they know their neighbors and live in community. In the states, it has never cost more, obesity is on the rise, the inequality gap is growing, and I personally feel like I have less time. Consequences. Not good or bad, but trade offs. However, it doesn’t answer the question of what is my responsibility. How does seeing little ones hauling jerry cans of water back home change my practices? How does seeing people die without access to medication or basic medical tests change my views and impact my day? At the same time, how do you not let the overwhelming feeling of guilt for having take over? How does one honor an experience? Having it be time to leave is to acknowledge I have no answers but am forced to live with the daily question of what do I need and want.
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