Nick McCaskill, who spent 18 years of his life working in the Air Force Special Forces (Pararescue) division, was killed in battle at the Pakistan border on the morning of April 8, 2013; the Nargis Cyclone in Myanmar; Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest; a six year old Afghan girl being sold to a 17 year old to be his wife/slave; Buddhists and Muslims fighting in Burma (right now). Chances are you haven’t heard about these events or you may have read about it briefly. Simply by being born in the Western world- we are sheltered. Most of us (if not all) will never experience starvation, lack of water, zero access to healthcare, your parents selling you as a child bride. And if you’re a woman, you can get an education and have an equal say.
When I was in college- I majored in Social Work. Events of the world- the injustice, poverty, etc were pretty much shoved down our throats. We graduated, empowered with the desire and belief that we could save the world! Well, plans changed and after a number of years, my world became dominated by a husband, work, kids and daily living. I gradually slipped into an insulated comfort zone, but made it somewhat official when Emerson was born. She was born on September 7, 2001. Four days later, September 11th happened and things changed drastically in the US. I chose to turn off any news coverage of the attacks in fear that all the sadness, shock and negativity would seep into Emme. Basically, ignorance was bliss. That can only go on for so long, though. Sometimes it is bliss, sometimes ignorance is just plain ignorance.
I never really got back into checking in on world affairs and by the time we made our move to California in 2005 we had a pretty big happy bubble effect going on.
A few years back, I picked up a magazine in a waiting room and read an in depth article on Darfur. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Later that week, I was talking to someone about the genocide there and how I was dumbfounded that it had been going on for so long. The person I was talking to about it basically said, “That doesn’t affect me. Why would I care about that?!” Geesh, I thought. Caring is the absolute least you can do!
We are in India now and we’ve seen poverty that I can’t even begin to describe. In so many places, people are begging for money and/or having their children beg. Of course we can’t give to everyone and it’s not even good to foster that dependence, but the people reminded me of talking to a homeless man when I was working in Chicago. He said the hardest part about living on the streets is not the cold or hunger- it is the way some people pretend like you don’t exist. He said, “I wish some days that at least one person will make eye contact with me and maybe smile.” So, I figure, here- that is the least I can do.
Yesterday morning I read an email from one of our dearest friends- David Newman. He and his wife, Erin, woke up to horrific news on April 8th. Erin’s brother was killed during a battle at the Pakistan border. He was there working as a military advisor to train foreign forces. He was Erin’s only sibling and her older brother. I think a lot of us forget that people are risking their lives every day in foreign countries. Nick leaves behind a wife and two daughters. My heart hurts for Erin- I would be lost indefinitely without my brother Jeff around. Siblings are supposed to be our lifelong buddies- they are supposed to be around from the beginning to the end or at least thereabouts. I feel so sad for all of Nick’s people. That got me thinking today about things that ‘don’t affect us, but should.’ War in Pakistan seems so very far away. I think we’ve become somewhat immune to the reports on how many die each week, roadside bombs, suicide bombers, etc. It’s like a lot of us are desensitized somehow unless we know someone directly involved.
Yikes. Sorry for babbling. I am mainly posting this to hold us (my family) accountable so we don’t go back to a somewhat insulated comfort zone upon our return. So easy to do with school, soccer, activities, friends, etc. I want us to be up to date on what’s going on around the world (the good, the bad, the unfathomable and uncomfortable) because we should care. We should be thanking and honoring people like Nick McCaskill and Aung San Suu Kyi for doing what they felt was right and putting their lives on the line for it. We should be more knowledgable and open-minded about people with different viewpoints, religion, sexuality, whatever… We should speak up for or support groups that are working to end slavery (especially involving kids) and end the whole ‘women as property’ thing. That’s not a cultural/religious thing. That’s inhumane…..Whew! done.
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead
Below is a brief synopsis of some of the things I mentioned in the beginning:
~In 2008, Tropical Cyclone Nargis made a direct hit on Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, striking with Category 4 strength. There was scarce news about the damage, which is little surprise given the repressive military regime’s tight grip on control in the underdeveloped country.
Because the government controlled media and wouldn’t let aid agencies in to help- death toll estimates stand between 85,000 and 300,000.
~Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate, has come to symbolise the struggle of Burma’s people to be free.
She has spent more than 15 years in detention, most of it under house arrest. She was released from her current third period of detention on Saturday 13th November 2010.
However, there are hundreds’ of political prisoners in Burma and none of the repressive laws allowing the dictatorship to detain people without trial and restrict other freedoms have been repealed under the new constitution.
~I read an article two days ago about an Afghan refugee family that needed to borrow money from another family. If he couldn’t pay back his debt- the man lending the money said that his seventeen year old son wanted the borrower’s six year old daughter to be his wife. Gross. This little girl was described as sweet and good natured, and she loved school. The camp had recently started letting girls attend. The future mother-in-law said she could not attend school anymore because it would disgrace their family if she was educated. The mother of the girl had no say in the matter. While the father was being interviewed for the article, she was crouched in a corner with only her sad eyes peeking out from behind her burka.
*We are heading to Agra in the morning on a 7 am train to see Taj Mahal. I will do a ‘lighter’ post tomorrow.