Monday, April 19, 2010

African song

Bright orange dirt paths and roads are threatened by wild vegetation eager to take back their rightful claim to the cleared land. War is waged in return by the red-orange ground, covering all surrounding plants in a thick dirt covering. Women grace the path, floating by with baskets of laundry, buckets of water, or bins of bread, fruit, and wares to sell. Nearby women and men alike bend at the waist, machete in hand, clearing brush and farming the land, while others methodically sweep dirt floors and yards with straw brooms. There is a melody in this land. It is not the melody of Africa itself, but of the beautiful African peoples making a life in the territorial landscape. We are connected, these people and I, yet they carry in them an elegant song that I seem to have lost. The struggles have strengthened them, while my comforts have weakened me. When one suffers, one better appreciates easier times. When death invades, life is more readily cherished. When hunger looms, one treasures each meal. Where isolation invites death, community breeds life. I seem to walk through a muted world, while theirs crescendos and decrescendos.

The television shows death, starvation, poverty. These surely coexist with the peoples of Africa, but they do not define them. They chain and shackle these beautiful people, but they cannot silence their music. Where poverty rages, what is the responsibility of the rich? Where starvation eats a body until it kills without mercy, what is the responsibility of the well-fed? Where death looms imminent, what responsibilities do the "immortal" Western civilizations bear?
Those who have the luxury of education have the responsibility of educating. Those who have the luxury of three meals a day have the responsibility of ensuring others have the same possibility. Those with the luxury of medical care have the responsibility of providing it to those who needlessly die to curable causes. Where there are children, there should be hope, but we give hope to the Western white-skins and give condemnation to children of color. We have allowed and even enforced policies that entrench poverty, which allow babies to die because there is not enough food or even basic medical care, and then we condemn the poverty-stricken for not using birth control as a way to solve the "problem."

Oh, America, founded on such incredible principles, for what and for whom are we living? Those who seek personal gain will lose all and enslave others; those who accept personal sacrifice for the benefit of others will be blessed, will be strengthened, will be changed, while enabling a person, a people, a culture, a nation, a land, a world to rise out of cyclical and system-enforced poverty and realize potential, experience freedom, earn an education, and lead their own to higher heights, soaring through a world of possibilities. Let those who "have" not forget or shirk their responsibilities. Let those who "have not" hold on to hope. Let the common thread coursing through our veins allow us together to soar, to dream, to imagine, to teach, to create, to inspire, to live in freedom. It is time for this nation, the land of the free and the home of the brave, to rise up and cause a revolution, that all nations would one day describe themselves the same, that the whole earth would be the land of the free.

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