Please note that the opinions reflected on this blog are solely MY opinion. They do not reflect the Peace Corps or the US Government in any way.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It's a mad world

I don’t really know where to appropriately begin this post. I usually have a pretty clear direction of where I want to go and what I ultimately want my blog posts to be about but this one is different. I have followed my typical pattern of writing up random thoughts in a word document as well as cataloging my observations when I’m out and about. I’ve gone through the habitual steps but I still feel like this post will be even more all over the place than usual. You see, I’m doing pretty well here overall. Sure, right now things are a bit slow with Ramadan and the fact that the air is completely stagnant and incredibly hot (I know you’ve seen all my sweating stories on Facebook). I don’t really have a lot going on work wise but it will come soon and I’m not too worried about it. As you all have probably figured out by now, when I have a significant amount of down time, I end up thinking about various random things.

Recently thoughts of my family and various dramas going on back home have consumed a lot of my time. My dad recently lost his younger brother, my uncle Norbert who I have mentioned in various posts. He was incredibly close to him as was my mother. She lost one of her best friends.

Norbert was the kind of person that even though he was going through something more painful than most of us can imagine, he still took the time to be considerate and he cared deeply about his family and friends. I think that we could all benefit if we took a page from his book. Lately I feel as if some people back home are forgetting what is important in life.

There is far too much focus on pettiness and resentments that are long past. Instead of thinking about the fact that our family is already small enough and that we should cherish what we have, there has been criticism and hurtful words spread. Instead of encouragement and candid conversation, there is backstabbing and gossip. I’m not saying that some of the frustrations expressed aren’t valid, but I think there are better outlets for dealing with them. I would hate to think that Norbert’s passing meant nothing to anyone. I would hate to think that he left and we continued to foster unnecessary hatred towards one another. I would hope that his passing would enable all of us to reach into our hearts and hold on to what we have here because you never know when it’s going to be gone.

Underneath friendships, jobs, boyfriends, and whatever else, family is truly all we have. It is what we are born with, for better or worse, and it is what we need to protect. I am writing this not only because I am frustrated and sad with what I see going on back home but also as reassurance to anyone who is possibly dealing with a similar situation. I encourage everyone to make that weekly phone call, to give an extra hug, and to always say I love you.

 I know this might be getting kind of personal but I started this blog in order to document what is happening in my life during my Peace Corps service. Unfortunately these issues back home consume a lot of my everyday thoughts and are truly affecting my well-being here. I’m not writing this because I expect that things will miraculously get better. I am not naïve enough to believe that. I know that all families have problems; I just love mine too much to let things slip away or get worse. I hope that my family loves me enough to read what I have to say with care and an open mind. I’m not writing this to go on the defense or attack anyone. I know that we are all going through struggles and I write this with wishes that we can support and help one another. I am writing this because I am hurting and this is one of my outlets that I use when I am having a hard time. I am hoping that my words will be heard and will possibly help but all I can do is hope.

Along with my thoughts of home, I have also been thinking a lot about all of the hatred that there is the world. I honestly don’t understand it. I recently watched the “bi-racial” cheerios commercial that has had so many people super freaked out. I am at a loss for words on what to think of our society today. I was at least reassured after watching a video montage highlighting various children’s’ reactions to the commercial. They, rightly, didn’t see anything wrong with the fact that the couple featured was of different races. I applaud the parents of these children. I believe hatred and racism is something that is often taught.  I don’t think that we are born with this animosity in our hearts. I do believe that it’s possible to break free of the chains that bind us to the opinions of our families but it has got to be difficult. I want to share a quick blurb that I read on the comments of the video interviewing the children. It really stuck with me. It’s nothing super special; actually it is quite odd where it was taken from. It’s just a few lines from Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific that was filmed back in 1949.

You've got to be taught to hate and fear,
You've got to be taught from year to year,
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Why do some choose to continue to perpetuate the hatred? From one generation to another? This doesn’t only apply to racism but to negative thoughts in general. Why can’t we let go of our own past pains and encourage our children to be positive and happy? I am obviously not speaking from a parent’s point of view but as a child who has experienced others growing up in a resolutely negative atmosphere. I feel bad for them. I pity those who can’t see past their own shortcomings and look forward to a brighter future for their children. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to be born into a family that didn’t tolerate that sort of behavior. I did have very traditional, strict, German grandparents who would occasionally make racist comments but they were not sentiments that my parents shared which made them easier for me to escape.

I guess I would like to end this rambling, incredibly personal blog, by talking about forgiveness and the true importance of the word. Our lives are so short. Why can’t we make the best of it while we’re here? What does holding onto grudges and spewing hateful jargon really do for anyone? Why can’t we let things go and instead of criticizing others, why don’t we work towards our own personal betterment? Why can’t we lean on one another and offer support and guidance to those we know are hurting? There are people in the world, who are going through struggles that are beyond our magnitude to comprehend. I feel that as someone who has been living in a developing country for over a year, I have some room to speak on this subject. The people here may be “suffering” but they sure as hell do love each other. Family is number one.

In Senegal, you never turn your back on your family; you are always willing to take them in, to give them a second chance. This is one reason why African families are so huge (there’s also no real concept of birth control but that’s a topic for another day). These people may not ever have clean water; they may have to wait a few days before they can afford a proper meal for their family, and they may not have the best healthcare or education system but they sure do understand the importance of forgiveness. Maybe instead of continually pushing our sense of development on them, we should take a page from their book.

Until next time then,


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