Monday, May 2, 2011

Listen and Read

This is an interesting day.

Quick comment that will enhance the rest of your reading experience: I love music. I love how it moves us, how a melody or line of lyrics can bring together people who may not have anything else in common. And I love how it provides perspective by being incredibly refreshing and inspiring. So, as I was writing this post, I kept listening to three particular songs that did just that for me (which I needed considering the topic of this post). They may seem cheesy, but give em' a chance. :) Links are below for them. Pick one and listen to it while you read this post. :)

I had been meaning to write for the past few days on something that has been weighing on my heart, and then today, it was announced that Osama Bin Laden has been killed. The news is flooded with commentators, pictures of celebration are pasted all over newspapers...even here in South Africa. And it is a big deal. A very big deal. I wonder how our world will be different from here on out? Will there be less terrorist attacks or more? How will this influence the many revolutions going on in the Middle East and North Africa? How will this influence the way many people look at Muslim countries? I don't know. No one does, really. I want to be optimistic and think this could be the very small beginnings of a new world order. But then I think about the thing that I was going to write about initially...

In one of my very first posts upon arriving in Joburg, I briefly described the poverty that is so blatant here. Every street corner has people selling whatever they can to make money. Every street corner has people simply begging for money, and every street corner has people with some kind of disability, being guided by someone else, begging for money. Every parking lot has "parking attendants" who will take whatever form of payment you can give them (money, apples, bananas). For most of those people, it really is their job; to the point where I can recognize people and see the same faces at certain stop lights.
It was shocking when I first arrived here, but I did get used to it fairly quickly. I got used to how much I do and can give to people, how to handle myself (you do have to be aware of your safety at certain times of the day), and how to ignore what is around me. Sometimes, I'm still used to all that, and other times, like the past few weeks, I can't handle it. It literally breaks my heart. I find myself giving away food that I was planning on eating, scrounging for money in my purse, or driving away from a stop light as fast as I can because I can't handle looking at someone pleading with me to give them anything. There is one woman I've been thinking about in particular, as we've been on holiday. She is always at the same intersection on my way to campus and I really think she recognizes me as well now. I've given her a piece of fruit or some money before, but she always stops at my car window longer than I'm comfortable with, and looks like she is about to cry. She actually tries to sell things, none of it is anything I would actually want or need; but her need is obviously so much greater than selling all of her goods...a few pumice stones, lanyards, maybe a couple cell phone cases. I don't know her name, I don't know where she lives or what kind of family she has. And while many people are celebrating the death of Bin Laden, his death has absolutely no affect on her. She will still be at that street corner tomorrow and the next day and the next day, hoping (maybe praying) that she can get a enough money to survive.

While the death of Bin Laden is truly historical and monumental, there are even greater problems in this world that still need to be solved; many that never will be. The safety of our countries is vital, and friendly government relations is necessary. But even more, is not forgetting about the lives of people who live in our towns, on the streets in our city centers, or in a shantytown in another country. We each have so much we can do and truly need to do, right around us. I still haven't figured out for myself how to handle seeing this much need on a daily basis and feeling compelled to give much because I have been given much. I think I begin to feel that I have to "earn" the life I have by how much I give to other people. (When I figure it out, I'll let you know.) My point in all of this is, that we must keep perspective on the things that are most important, no matter what headlines history is making.


Pray, Justin Bieber.    I am generally not a J. Bieb fan, but this song just got me.)

Hold My Hand, Michael Jackson featuring Akon    I know this song isn't about world peace or anything like that, but I just love it and I think in the world we live in, we definitely need someone to hold our hand at times.

Everybody, Ingrid Michaelson    It's just a true song.


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