I was looking through my hard drive recently and saw some pictures that I took last year. Pictures I almost forgot I had. My family and I stayed at this hotel near Manila Bay. This was the view from our room some 10 floors up. A young boy (who couldn’t have been more than 10 years old) practically submerging his whole body in garbage-filled water. Searching for who-knows-what.
As I edited this photo, I tried to recall my emotions that day. I remember feeling angry, guilty and helpless… all at once. Angry at the people who let this happen. Guilty because the room I was complaining about was in fact a luxury. Helpless because it seemed like there was nothing I could do at that time.
One thing I did remember doing was call my eldest daughter (now 10) to the window. “See how fortunate you are?”
Unknown to her, I was telling myself the same thing. How fortunate I am indeed.
As a coach in a sport usually reserved for the affluent, I’m more used to seeings kids who whine about the smallest things. Kids who can buy anything they want but are bored. Kids who question the opportunities given them. To say stark contrast would be an understatement.
Don’t get me wrong. As a child of privilege (relatively speaking), I threw away my share of blessings too. And that’s probably what hurts most… seeing history repeat itself.
In the movie Book o f Eli, the main character played by Denzel Washington gave this description about the previous generation to his young friend. “People had more than they needed. They had no idea what was precious… what wasn’t. We threw away things people kill each other for now.”
I know it’s fiction. But it’s hard to deny the resemblance to the real world now, isn’t it? The scary part is that even today, there are literally people (like that little boy) who are ready to risk their lives to find treasure in our trash.
Should we give up certain luxuries because some people are starving? “Live simply so that others may simply live,” so to speak.
A little sacrifice probably wouldn’t hurt. Not sure if that would be enough, though.
The government? Well… I think this goes beyond garbage disposal systems, social welfare or economics.
I believe at the heart of the problem is education. And I’m not only referring to the academic kind.
As a parent myself, I dare not criticize others for trying to provide the most comfortable life for their children. The real challenge for all of us is to impart to the next generation something that no amount of wealth can buy – a sense of purpose.
I admire those who have succeeded in their chosen endeavors against overwhelming adversity. I admire them even more when they choose to lend their fame and fortune for a greater cause. They inspire me to press on… to stretch my own boundaries, with the hope that someday I may become an instrument of change as well in this dark world.
To whom much is given, much is required. Comfort those with the same comfort you have receieved. Blessed to be a blessing. Acceptable religion.
Time to put it all to work.
If you happen to share my sentiments, check out the links below. Although I’m not involved with these organizations in any official capacity, I do support their advocacy.
To conclude, here’s a song by Acel Van Ommen.