I study injustice, social change, poverty, sustainability – the good, the bad, and the ugly – on a daily basis. It is rare that I come across something in that sphere that is worthy to share (other than the things I produce – oh, like the video for the Koshe project. You remember that one don’t you?) Quite frankly, most of the things I uncover are simply too depressing to talk about.
But I think it is appropriate I came across this video today. The stark contrast between freedom and being a refugee is presented in this film as a reminder of my great blessings, but also that not everything has to be as bad it seems. There can be happiness in the ruins, in other’s mistakes, and in enduring the most disheartening of circumstances. What is happiness? It has been defined in this country by how many Apple products you own, how much press your indie-rock band gets, by paying off your student loans so you can finally take that hot chick out to that fancy restaurant Yelp followers have been raving about, the list goes on and on. But in reality it is so much more (or so much less, depending on the way you look it). I am mature enough to understand my happiness does not come from owning stuff or having it all together. Rather it comes from community, family, and (in essence) freedom.
I am reminded that even though I am free, my brothers and sisters all across the world are not. I admire the hope that this video embodies. These scenes in Africa are all so familiar to me. While I’ve only visited Africa (Kenya and Ethiopia) for a total of five months, I am given a little nostalgic reminder of the dirt, the jerry cans, and the plastic sandals. These images may seem exaggerated, but the truth is, that is the life of so many people. And yet, despite our standards for happiness, these people can also find joy. By no means am I saying this is a place to live. No one should be forced from their home. And that is where I come to my first point: Because I’ve been surrounded and saturated with facts about war, poverty, and refugees for years, I am uncertain if this is news to anyone. Do you know about this? There are civil wars going throughout most of East Africa and quite frankly, I don’t know what to do about it other than share what I learn and pray for peace.
“So often refugees are forgotten because the problem seems too overwhelming. Our intention was to have two worlds crashing together with the hopes that in the mash-up both worlds’ beauty would shine through in their purest form.”
I’d admire their efforts, and I would have to say: mission well accomplished, boys! This organization is doing fine work and I hope someday I can have the audacity to leave home and do something like this again. This video makes me want to go back to the field to help others, hands on. I want to create. I want to be with them, the hold them, to feel their pain, their joy. Is something wrong with me? But most importantly I want peace on earth. It’s what we hoped for in our nightly prayers as kids or the message we fashioned together with Elmer’s glue and food-colored macaroni stuck to paper plates for Christmas decorations in Mrs. Wiggin’s second grade class. But is it attainable? And at what age did I learn that there really wasn’t peace on Earth? Should I simply ask for that innocence back?
But today, I remember I am free. So to my fellow USAer's: Happy Independence Day, Ya’ll