- The world is a terrible place- suffering seems inevitable, and it’s so prevalent in Africa. The fact that people can live at this level of poverty across the world from us is incredible, and so confusing to wrap my mind around. Why does this sort of suffering still exist, and how is it excusable? I think that experiences like this really put into perspective how little the world has improved, and how the majority of the world really is suffering even while we are comfortable.
- I’m still hopeful- I still think there is a lot of fundamental good inside human beings, and I hope for the world to become a better place. There is a lot of terrible humanitarian needs that aren’t being met in Africa, but there are people who are trying to meet those needs, and are doing so even with so much stopping them. I don’t think
- I kind of enjoy film making, and should really try to do it more often- I’ve always tried to avoid taking pictures on trips since I feel that it takes me out of the experience, but sometimes when I had a camera I felt I was almost getting more. I was more actively looking for what was happening and more present because of that. Also, it means that I can show people what was happening much easier than just explaining it to them.
The thing about traveling is that once I go somewhere, I am never again the same person. Different air penetrates my lungs, different ideas cultivate my mind, and new people enter my vicinity.
Traveling to Alaska, the things I witnessed and experienced in Bethel changed me.
The air that penetrated my lungs was crisp and clear. It was seemingly untouched by pollution and did not encapsulate me like a blanket, as does the harsh humidity in Omaha. The air was free in the wide-open spaces, and was not disrupted by high skylines. As the air cleared, so did my mind. Without the distractions generally present in the lower 48, I was able to truly connect with the beauty of nature and with my own thoughts. Among the fresh air, I was shown the power of reflection in nature and in life.
The ideas that cultivated my mind were different and exciting. I learned the idea of treating food like a guest with love and appreciation, and the concept that food has a memory, which has caused me to think about the story behind the food I purchase. The idea of “military showers” (showers where you conserve as much water as possible) inspired me to be more conscious of my water usage while the kindness and hospitality of the people of Bethel encouraged me to treat other people in a similar way.
The people who entered my vicinity were amazing and inspiring. Rose Dominic showed me the power of forgiveness. Cecelia Martz reminded me of the importance of maintaining culture and respecting elders. While Nelson exhibited more ambition and passion than I had ever seen before.
The air, the ideas, and the people I encountered in Bethel have made a permanent impact on my life. Through travel, my perspectives have altered, my opinions have changed, and the person I was four weeks ago no longer exists.
Colour your world is paint company slogan that is everywhere here. I have seen it multiple places and multiple times each day we have been here. There are tons of paint advertisements here and ironically few buildings are painted with anything but advertisements.
I would like to amend something that I said a few days ago. I think that my claim that “Uganda does not change” could be misconstrued. I would like to make a distinction between change and progress. Although I don’t have the time or brain capacity to explain it here (long day) there is a difference between change and progress that parallel’s Aristotle’s distinction between chance and luck. Progress is a form of change, but not all change is progress. Progress has the special quality: it needs to be instigated by a rational being. Change does not. Like O’Keefe said, “Kampala changes overnight.” When I woke up the second and third day and even from a nap on the bus ride to Lira, it was like I was stepping off the plan all over again. Heidi enlightened me to the fact that Uganda is about the size of Oregon. I have never been to Oregon, but I am confident in saying that there is so much more dynamic, more life and more change here than there is across most of the United States (this might just be because I am used to the U.S. today though). I think that what I really meant to focus on… was the concept of progress. And still, I am going to take the stance of Socratic ignorance on whether or not the change that is embedded in Uganda is progress. I don’t know. And I don’t have the time to observe that in two weeks.
What I do know is that I have changed. And I do think that change is progress. I feel myself smiling more, seeing more, talking more, and thinking more. Maybe it is because of what O’keefe said to me today. “The one thing the poor have that we don’t… is time.” Maybe what I needed was time. Time away and time cramped. Time apart and time together. Time to think and time to watch. Uganda and Ave Maria, thanks for the time, the change, and the colour you gave to my world in just 3 days.
I can’t wait for tomorrow.