Friday, July 28, 2006

The World is all of Me

The world is more than me, but all of me:
A personal statement by Collin J Whelley

In a world of money poverty is its plague. In a world of life through knowledge and partnership lies the doorway of progress. But this progression is one towards a shift in the way we see ourselves, our neighbors, our communities, our countries, our world, and what we can and are willing to do about their present situations. I am a person who now, more than ever, must look at the world as separate from money. Money is a necessity and jobs are needed, but money does not make my world spin. Recognizing the truth and realities of life and seeking to reveal them is doing the world and its inhabitant’s justice.

In a past immersion experience in Nicaragua viewing some of the harshest realities of the world for the first time was immensely difficult. This initial experience generates a number of physical and emotional reactions. There is guilt, anger, excitement, helplessness, sadness, fear, embarrassment, loneliness, happiness, empowerment, and back again. Each feeling like a new experience, each equally as hard, and all influence the individual for, I hope, forever.

In the beginning it is hard to look in the eyes of people who suffer or appear to be different. As a little boy I found it hard to look in the eye of those who are physically and mentally handicapped. The Project has taken this feeling to a place where I have to look in the eyes of the hungry and the sick and dying and acknowledge them and their life and my world. We work with hungry children, people with missing and dirty teeth, children with lice in there heads and mucus in there eyes. We see Houses unfinished surrounded by infested stray dogs. We also see smiles, history, pride, and embarrassment. Not looking may be a result of our apparent respect, guilt or from a number of viable feelings; however, it shows no respect and no willingness to face the truth of life and reality. Each of us wants to be un-judged by the other and treated as we are; people.

In the village of Itapaya during one of the Bolivia Project courses we met a little girl name Anet. Anet is nine years old. Her favorite color is yellow her favorite subjects in school are Spanish and Quechua the native tounge of the Incas. Anet lost her legs in a car collision when she was five. Her parents had to carry her to school and cart her around in a wheelbarrow. I had the opportunity to meet her as she was present during our course. Though the project bought her a wheelchair and her family shed tears of thanks, what I remembered and learned is the necessity to look and recognize everyone and everything that I see in this world. Because through recognition of life and its reality one can truly respect and dignify those who need and the only way I may start to act.

Love, knowledge, voice, and stories are my keys to civic perseverance and I would think, though I am different than my neighbor, that it would work for most everyone. In the future, after and for the rest of this project, I must continue to recognize and expose the truths and realities of the world. But more than that, I feel drawn to fight for those voices that go ignored. With the orphaned, the hungry and the sick and for the normal but forgotten I will find my vocation. I can not save the world, but I can do something. Gandhi once wrote “the difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing, would salve most of the worlds problems.” What the Bolivia project is doing is great, it feels great, however, the world and the problems in this world are larger than we have time money and energy, but we still do something. The world is more than me, but it is all of me and I doubt I will ever forget that.