Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mama Congo and real life

Today, I want to share a post from a blog that I follow...that I think you should follow too.

Mama Congo is written by two American women who live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with their husbands and kids. I love hearing about people's lives in other countries – it’s fascinating! But to pick up your family and move to a country like the Congo - astounding. Have a look around their blog and at this website if you'd like, to see more of what life is like there.

The post I want to highlight is: The Picture That Did Me In. What Sarah describes here is an extremely common but shocking reality of how much of the world operates: with so little/access to so little, while the rest of us have so much/so much access. When I’m reminded of this disparity, I’m reminded that I actually have so much I can give (even when I think I don’t).
At  traffic lights here in SA, there are always a number of people begging or selling whatever odds and ends they can in order to makes some money. My heart breaks every time. I always watch them (and often try not to make eye contact, to be honest) and think: What if I had to do that? What if I had to try and sell pens or cell phone car chargers or cheap car decals to make a living? What if I just had to beg? How humbling that would be to me. Their’s is a whole other world that I really can’t even comprehend. (And these people probably have even a bit more than those who we don’t see.) And as I pass some of these people and drive into the grocery store, I have my choice of cereals, fruits, ice-creams, chips, breads, sodas, toothpaste, shampoo…even toilet paper. I can very quickly and easily feel guilty.

I wanted to highlight the post from Mama Congo because a) I thought it was great and I love their blog. But, b) to share a small part of my daily life here in SA. It can be hard to live with the realization that there is such a disparity between people…and I often feel like I’m furthering it when I keep purchasing multiple cereals or ice-creams…but it is a reality, but one that, I think, people are only better for when it’s realized. Because we have so much, we really can do so much. (OPTIONAL: I often hear people say that they don’t give money to those on the street because they don’t want the money to be used to buy drugs, cigarettes, etc. Well, when I first moved here, I learned from someone to try and keep food in my car/with me (bananas, bread, apples) that I can give out. It’s a small gesture, but it’s being active about the reality rather than moping about it.)

Let Mama Congo know if you like their blog – bloggers love to hear from you. :)

Love from the quickly summer-ing southern hemisphere,


(Oh, and at first I thought I should include more pictures in this post, but when I thought about what that meant…taking pictures of people from inside my car…that just didn’t sit well with me. It’s better to see some things for yourself.)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The discussion of Syria

On the day that we remember such a life changing and heart breaking day in history, I find it interesting that the US is once again in a debate over whether to involve itself in Middle Eastern affairs; namely, the case of Syria. Of course, the circumstances are completely different. No one attacked us. No Americans died. But many people did die. An act of terrorism occurred somewhere else, to others.

Did you watch President Obama’s speech last night? I didn’t watch it – it aired at 4 A.M. over here – but I did read the transcript. If you didn’t watch, you can read the transcript HERE. I think it is a very impressive speech. He seemed to fully address the public’s concerns and pulled in strongly persuasive historical context for the path he is proposing.  If I didn’t have my own inner turmoil about the situation, this speech might have convinced me to support his stance.

But as a Christian, what do you do in a case like this? How do you decide what the right decision is?

I completely believe that the use of chemical weapons is atrocious and an act like what was seen in Syria should not receive a blind eye. But does that justify deadly, retaliatory action?

President Obama’s speech had some good lines in it.

“…it’s also a danger to our security. Let me explain why. If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield, and it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and to use them to attack civilians.”

Do you believe this? Do you feel unsafe as an American in the US, or are you fearful? I personally have never feared for my safety while living in the US.

“America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when the  modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”

This sounds really great. Very patriotic. Do you believe America isn’t “the world’s policeman”? Because I have a feeling more Americans than not probably think we are the world’s policeman. Do you think much about America’s role in the rest of the world (whether you’re American or another nationality)?

And lastly…

“The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world’s a better place because we have borne them.”

This statement, I believe, is true of life in general. I am challenged to be a better leader in my own life, in small ways and big ways. And on a day we remember the deaths and sacrifice of so many, how to you make a decision based on others deaths, and a decision that will almost certainly result in further loss of life?

What are your thoughts? On the situation or on President Obama’s speech. Please keep the comments calm, respectful, and tame. :)