RESPECT, EMPATHY, INCLUSION

Accepted “Unacceptables”

So what is your idea of doing without? I’m, in this moment, in the middle of Africa, in a country with undisputedly the highest inflation rate in the world and I have a lousy cold. Talking like a frog with stuff running down the back of my throat, coughing up a chest that aches from coughing non stop and no decongestant. Nothing to clear the head, stop the faucet running nose, end this racking cough. ( I am squeezing fresh lemons)

So that’s my idea of doing without. What’s yours?

Yet as I look at the little kids around me and hear their coughing orchestra, I think "wait a minute boy, why have you come to accept this as the norm?" Little runny nose coughing kids… that’s not acceptable! What other "unacceptables" do I just accept as the norm?

What other experiences do I need to pass through (and this lousy cold is minor) in order for me to recognize the accepted "unacceptables" in my world?

Stood in a bread line 4 days ago. Everyone should have the experience at least once… the only white guy standing in line wondering what the others are thinking, and more importantly what their situation is at home, 160 billion dollars per loaf. Not a big deal for me since I start with US dollars and change them so this loaf is a couple of bucks, but what about the other people in line who do not start with US dollars? How is there even a line?

Amidst mountains of hurt and hunger beauty will not die.

In the ped ward there were 4 little ones with burns of different size and intensity, but all needing hospitalization, all needing burn cream that they are supposed to go and buy at the local pharmacies where a tiny single serving cost $30…. A mom on the right looks into your face with the pleading of a mom asking not for herself but for her baby… Stepping into the adjoining room you find 3 sharp professional nurses in spotless crisp uniforms and they greet you with a smile….a smile… how can they do it? I thank one of them for what she is doing in these very difficult times. "What else can we do?" she says with a shrug of her shoulders. I think to myself, "you could exit like others." but out loud I say, " Well thank you so much for your service." I’m told she gets less than 160B a month, but she still faithfully comes to work every day….. With a smile!… that’s beauty!

There is laughter coming from the open kitchen building at the orphanage. As I step in the walls to my left and right are lined with happy kids stuffing their talking faces with beans and potatoes. As I take my bowl from the serving table one of the boys says "come sit at our table." The short bench he offers me is about 6 inches tall which is just right for the table about 20 inches.

As I look around the room these faces and sounds are gorgeous! There on the other wall sandwiched in between 2 little ones sits Jon with his bowl of beans and potatoes. Jon is spending his summer here and I ask him over the chatter, "How does this compare with MRE’s? (Jon spent 2 tours in Iraq) "No comparison!" he says with a laugh. Beauty will not die.

The thought comes to me again and again, more than "believing what we see", "we see what we believe!". And what we experience is bound to shape what we determine as the "unacceptables" in our world.

Carl – World Outside My Shoes

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