Monday, April 14, 2008

Life isn't fair

I normally try to post only once in a week, but I feel like writing about this today. I think it's really important:

I cut my finger.

I have a cut on the end of my right index finger and it's bugging me like crazy. Even right now, I have to write this post without it because it stings whenever I put any pressure on it. It makes life really rough... playing the piano is harder, I bump it on things and it hurts... cutting the fresh pineapple open yesterday really stung. It's just very annoying. Life can be so hard sometimes.

And then, this morning I read from Sokwanele's "This is Zimbabwe" blog - a blog maintained by a small opposition group in Zimbabwe. Three weeks ago Zimbabwe held combined parliamentary and presidential elections -- and the results have still not been released. The current president, Robert Mugabe (Bob), has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980. At first he did great things for the country, but he liked power so much that he stayed as president at all costs -- and ruined the country. Right now, he is doing everything he can (both legally and illegally) to maintain his rule, and it makes me sad.

Currently Zimbabwe suffers from about 150,000% inflation. This means a dollar today is worth 20 cents tomorrow. Two days from now that dollar is worth 4 cents. Three days, and your dollar is worth less than a cent. Money is basically useless. And it's useless in two dimensions: 1) it doesn't hold value and 2) there's no food to buy.

And somehow, people keep on going.

Whenever I talk about Zimbabwe, most people think I'm just telling "another mission story." Returned missionaries immediately revert to the "yes, but let me tell you about my mission" mode. Those who haven't served acquire a glazed look and start looking for an escape. I've begun to just stop talking about it... as it never promotes dialogue, only back and forth monologue.

But for me... it's hard to believe that I live the kind of life I live while others live such completely different lives. I cut my finger this week, but take a look at this (it is graphic... don't look at it if you are squeamish). This man was beaten for supporting those who oppose the president.

Today, I woke up late, took a warm shower, went to school, bought some yoghurt-covered pretzels and a caramel-pecan myrtle with my plastic card. Then I sauntered home enjoying the beautiful weather. I cooked some hash browns, sausage, ham and eggs for lunch, then took my car (I'm 23 and I have access to a vehicle and the means to pay for gas) to get it inspected. And I didn't have to bribe the people that inspected it! I stopped by the intramural fields and flew my kites whilst laying on the grass. Then I grabbed a Jamba juice and came back here.

I have never in my life (you are probably the same) gone hungry without choosing to do so. I've often wondered what it would be like to be hungry and not have any hope for quenching the hunger. I've never had to worry about being beaten up by the government (that sounds kind of silly to think that the U.S. government would send people just to beat me up). I have carpet! I have toys... I have free time... I have a mom and dad... I'm not sick

I feel like shouting, "LIFE ISN'T FAIR!" Why do I get all this and someone else, right now, is being beaten to death? Why do I get to worry about how to best invest my money, while someone else has to worry about finding raw grain so that they can eat some mush? Why do I spend my time thinking of creative or fun dates while others spend time thinking of ways to get home at night?

The biggest question I'd like to answer is, "Given the disparity, what can I do to help?" I know I can't fix it... but I'd sure like to get to the other side and feel comfortable sitting next to those who had a much worse time here.

Thanks for the indulgence.


Elise said...

ooh sorry for the paper cut. And thanks for the post. Just today we had a discussion in my humanities class about how moral it is to simply pay a generous fast offering and think your job was done. It's not enough and hopefully when I have the means and the time, I can get myself enough out of my box that I, too can help those in need firsthand, getting all those fast offering dollars to benefit the people who really need it. Thanks, Matt.

Kira Joy said...

Learning about the suffering of others can really change a person. I have learned so much from seeing how other people live. Sometimes I get ticked at things in my life, but then when I see someone else and how they suffer, it really makes me feel so insignificant.

Megs said...

Wow. Thank you Matt. What a powerful way to make your point. I love surrounding myself with people who care about what's going on in the world. Just because you have a connection to the place doesn't mean people should roll your eyes when you start talking about it either! I probably have more insightful and interesting things to say about this, but I'm going to save them and mull. but thank you.