It is one thing to hear it in lectures, read it in books, or see it in a documentary. It is another to feel and experience it. When I see the concave bellies of children, the sediment filled fluid people call drinking water, the rooms which house an entire family, I am brought to tears, I feel outraged, overwhelmed, and filled with helplessness,
Whether we know it or not, we are all both victims and benefactors of circumstance. We've been born into this world with an inherent set of rules and opportunities. And for many of my friends reading this, you are with me, we are on the fortunate side of circumstance. No matter what difficulties we may be going through, we still have security of food and water, a roof that shelters from rain, and a chance to seek for a path that both fulfills and supports us. These are amenities that some of the locals I've met don't have.
While socioeconomic disparity is an issue, there are more studied scholars who can speak better to the topic. Instead, I want to talk about a different aspect of the issue: not realizing that our situation, our good fortune, is due in part to circumstance. It's like my good friend Lonnie, who sells papers by espresso Royale in Ann Arbor told me, " so many of us were born on third base but think we hit a triple."
When we don't realize our circumstance has shaped our opportunities it becomes easy to look down at people who live more modest lifestyles than us. To think that the locals of places we travel, the service people, the homeless, are below us. And when we consider ourselves superior, we dehumanize the people we are judging, without fully knowing their story. Given the same opportunities, education, cultural motivation, food security etc., that homeless person that person in service would be sitting next to you in med school or competing with you for a job,
And while we have been engrained with the knowledge of western academia, technology and productivity, this is only one form of intelligence. I find many locals, especially in nature-based locations, have a completely different form of intelligence. It's an intelligence that’s more resourceful, has more ingenuity, is extremely practical, and mostly experiential. It's tested for true rather than taken for true. It's devised from learning to live off the land and what the land is giving. It relies more on intuition, feeling and experience, rather than logic, theory and dogma.
Stay long enough with a person who lives a more modest lifestyle , and you'll see this. Better you’ll feel a difference. Though, inquire past the surface and you may find you're not so different after all. Many of the difference stem from the opportunities you've been born into, not capacity or aptitude.
When you see truly how much circumstance influences the life you live, you get a real dose of perspective. One that shows how fortunate we are. It shows that the challenges you are facing are only challenges because of relativity of perspective. What we label as “problems,” to others would be labeled as blessings.
So if I could impose for a moment to close. Be mindful of what you truly need in life. Try to minimize assumptions, because we never know what's really going on in someone's life, chances are they have as much problems and depth to their character as you do. Be grateful for what you do have and not maligned for what you don't, because truly someone wishes they were in your place. Seek not to see everything as good, but to find the good in everything. Vote for the candidate not who serves you interest but rather who aims to give opportunities to all regardless of circumstance. And listen to everyone , because they all have stories to tell and insight to share but it's up to us to listen