Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why Me?

The news these days makes us uncomfortable, doesn't it?  Sometimes I feel like not reading the paper, watching the news or even going on Facebook so I don't have to hear and see the atrocities and depressing stories playing themselves out before the world, thanks to technology.

When we go through a difficult time or a trying circumstance, it consumes us.  All we can focus on is what we are presently feeling and facing.  We ask the famous pity-party question, "Why me?" when we don't understand how or why what we're dealing with could possibly have happened to us.  But in light of what others in this world are struggling with, I think, "Why not me?" is a better question.

We are the minority...those of us who live in a house with walls, floor and roof and have electricity to heat and cool it, cook our meals and store our goods, access to clean water in abundance to flush and spill and let run at will, a police force that actually protects us, a government that doesn't throw us in jail for what we believe, a neighborhood to walk in undisturbed and unafraid, stores with shelves that are stocked with so much food that half of it we've probably never even tried, pets that receive more regular meals than many children, hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment and medicine that rarely, if ever, runs out, entertainment abounding in an array of games, sports, movies and parties, outdoor pursuits such as hiking, fishing, climbing, hunting and pretty walks, education and the opportunity to have more if we want, labor laws that keep us safe, comfortable and paid for the job we do, music at the press of a button, swipe of a finger or click of a dial, clean teeth and hair cuts, not to mention pedicures and manicures and massages, and then there are toys...big toys, and jewelry and ten pairs of shoes and a closet full of clothes we haven't worn for years, libraries, theaters, gyms and parks, coffee shops on every corner and restaurants for every taste (but don't get me started on food again because then I start thinking of all the food that ends up in the garbage, scraped off our plates, tossed off the grocery store shelves and disposed of in dumpsters behind hotels, stores and restaurants), and the sheer luxury of privacy...the ability to go into a bathroom or bedroom and shut the door to dress, bathe and use the toilet alone.

Do you know that at least 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day?  Yes, 80%.  Every time you go out for lunch or buy a latte for you and a friend or pick up a cute blouse on sale or go to a movie, you have spent someone's entire wage for the day.  And you didn't even blink.  No sacrifice at all.

I've stood at the site of a mass grave and looked out over scores of white tombstones after a genocide.  I entered the very building where thousands of people gathered because they were told it was the safest place, and then were betrayed and delivered into the hands of the enemy.  I've walked the same hills where villagers once ran, fleeing the men with guns below, only to die of hunger, thirst and heat exhaustion in the rugged terrain.  I've visited families living in huts and hovels with chickens and animals roaming freely through their "home."  I've looked in a bag of rice and found it crawling with cockroaches and knew that it was about to be cooked for the next meal.  I've sat in the living room of former refugees and listened to the story of how they received relief packets dropped from American planes.  I've seen people bathe, brush their teeth and relieve themselves in the village square, the only place with water.  I've slept on a mat on a concrete floor beside people I barely knew.  I "showered" under a trickle of cold water or a bucket and a pail.  I've dressed behind a towel and held that towel for others so we could change clothes outdoors in mixed company.  I've shared meals with people who gave me their very best....crackers and mayonnaise...because that's all they had under the oppressive government who controlled their rations.  I've watched a horse collapse in the street, driven literally to death because there was no other transportation.  I've been followed by gypsy children who threw rocks at me when I had nothing to give them, and I've seen those same desperate children shooed away like a dirty street dog by others better off than they.  I've seen people living in bombed out homes because there was no place else to go and no money to rebuild.  I've helped in medical clinics where the only treatment we could give was antibiotics, vitamins and prayer.  I've walked through slums so dangerous we had to have hired police with us at all times.  I've been the first white person to step foot in a remote village filled with grass huts so tiny you had to stoop to enter.  I've seen garbage clogging waterways, filling streets, and tumbling down mountainsides...and crowds of people picking through it.  And I've stepped over beggars and bums sleeping on the streets and walked on my way.  And after these experiences, I caught a plane and flew back to the comforts of home and hearth.

And then there are the "nevers."  I've never had to flee for my life.  I've never had my home destroyed.  I've never left a wound or ailment untreated.  I've never been imprisoned, raped, beaten, or held at gunpoint.  I've never scavenged for food.  I've never drunk contaminated water or been parched because there was none.  I've never been persecuted for my faith.  I've never been afraid for my life or the lives of my loved ones.  I've never witnessed a violent and deliberate murder against an innocent person.  I've never seen a masked mob descend upon my city to riot and pillage it.  I've never hidden from bad guys or bombs.  And I've never had to pray to God to spare me from such things either.

So the next time you want to ask, "Why me?" think about that question a little differently.  Why not me?  When 80% of the world is suffering in ways we can only imagine, who are we to complain because we got a speeding ticket for driving too fast in our nice car on a highway that is repaired, marked and actually goes from point A to point B without being blown up or washed out.  When you crawl into bed at night with your cozy duvet, favorite pillow and a decent box spring and mattress, don't worry about the next day.  Instead be thankful you're not wrapped in a blanket sleeping on the ground of a hut or a tent or under the stars.  When you look in the fridge and see "nothing" to eat or your closet and see "nothing" to wear, remember that your ugliest, oldest outfit might be the nicest clothes someone else could ever own and your "famine" would be another person's feast.

I'm certainly not trying to guilt-trip anyone.  I'm just reminding myself...and asking myself, "Why me?"  Why am I in the 20% minority?  Why did God allow me to live free and full and fearless?  Certainly not to complain about how bad life is or all the things I'm lacking.  I have to believe that I am in the 20% because God knew He could count on me to help the 80% with my finances, my time, my activism, and my prayers.

Sometimes it's hard to know what to do.  It's so much bigger than we are.  But there is always something.  The first thing we can do is stop asking, "Why me?" when it comes to suffering and instead state boldly, "Why not me?" to be the one to step up and step out in faith and in action.  Pray for someone today.  Go somewhere where there is need.  Give out something you have to another.  Give up something you want so that you have money to help another.  Teach your kids to be mindful and be thankful.  Remind yourself of the same.

"Why me, Lord?"  "Why have you given me so much in my life?"

Why not me?  Why not you?  Why not us?  Why can't the 80% reach out to the 20% and seek to close the gap?  Help us, Lord, to love your people like you do, that we may be Your hand extended.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for opening our eyes to truth Karyn.