…when you open your eyes.
The day before we left for Uganda, we talked as a class about how weird it was going to be when we returned. We listened to students who went last year tell us that the return to the US was certainly not fun, that we would find comfort in spending time with the classmates who we traveled with, and would come to enjoy our time in class because it would give us a chance to reminisce and look at all of the things we experienced on film.
When I returned home that day, I found an e-mail in my inbox from the Matador Network, a travel website that I subscribed to a while back. The e-mail showcased and article titled, “The struggle to return home,” which, ironically, was written by a photojournalist who had just returned from Gulu named Richard Stupart.
I e-mailed the article to everyone on our trip and then forgot about it until today when I came across it on my bookmarks list.
It’s almost funny how much all of our blog posts are echoing what Richard writes in his article.
We’ve all mentioned the difficulty in answering the question, “How was the trip?” We don’t know what to say. A long, drawn out answer would be almost annoying, but a short, one sentence answer would never do it justice.
He writes, “‘How was it?’ is a question so easily asked, but the weight of the explanation that it compelled me to give was just too large. Too inappropriate. Ten minute appraisals in the middle of everyone else’s weekly story seemed too disrespectful. A full emotional explanation would be impossible. An attempt to give one would be poor conversational etiquette.”
He goes on to say that talking about that kind of trip isn’t all fun and games because going to Africa is almost too real—it’s death and poverty and sadness.
He concludes that people don’t want to know about all of that sadness.
“Maybe that is why nobody asks how it was. It’s easier not to know. And it’s easier for me to believe that than to think that nobody really cares about these characters from another world.”
It’s a sad conclusion, but I think he might be right. Ignorance is pure bliss, and turning a blind eye to what happens on the other side of the world, in a place that seems light years away, is easier than pouring over depressing newspaper articles about how Sudan is falling apart or how Uganda’s president is practically throwing aid money away while people are starving.
We’re just so wrapped up in our own problems. If we worried and cared about each other more, instead of just ourselves, maybe the world would be a nicer place.