So, this is one of those blog posts that I wrote and left in my drafts…because I was worried about the reactions I might get. And I wondered if I would really feel as strongly a few days later. Well, one month and two weeks later, I still agree with the words I have written here. These were my thoughts on March 4th, 2016:
I almost titled this post “third world problems”, but then I realized that horrible things happen in my country too. It’s easier to disassociate my reality from this story. I want to accomplish two things in this blogpost. I am not confident I will succeed, to be honest, but these are things I have observed, and I so desperately want my “first world” loved-ones to understand them.
In many ways, we are all the same. People are people. We are each responsible for our own life-choices and how those choices affect our future.
In various ways, we are so different. The salary and/or opportunity gap we see among ourselves in the U.S. is nothing compared to the discrepancy between classes here. We are privileged, and I do not use that term lightly.
I have described in other posts certain things that will make my blood boil if anyone back home dares say them to me when I return. However, those things have been related to your drive (or lack thereof) to pursue a dream, or your over-attachment to things that have no eternal value.
This is different. I am undecided (about my reaction when I get home, that is). I am not sure if I will want to explode or cry or laugh or be cuttingly sarcastic. God, help me. Haha, and God help all of you!
After being exposed to life in a third world country, there are things that don’t bother me as much now. And there are things that bother me more.
Things that don’t bother me as much:
Our healthcare “problem”.
The possibility of Trump as President.
Our government in general.
The price of gas.
Waiting an hour for your food at a restaurant.
Things that bother me more:
Complaining about any of the above.
Abusers of welfare (not that I’m in love with it in the first place).
People who have a problem with public breastfeeding.
As a U.S. citizen (or visitor), you will receive treatment in an ER. Regardless of the serious or stupid reasons you will go there. Said treatment will have nothing to do with the amount you can pay upfront. Trump may be horrible as a person, but “checks and balances” will prevent him or anyone from corrupting the nation totally and absolutely. The people here assume corruption. They literally budget for it. Every checkpoint involves a bribe. A recent violent crime was later connected to a judge. Prostitution is in your face. In fact, it’s legal above age 18. If the man that knocked you up leaves you, foodstamps to buy wine, energy drinks, dessert, and lobster don’t exist. Your child likely won’t attend school for long, if at all.
I digress. This is the story I actually wanted to tell…
One day, my sister Molly asked me if it was normal for her limbs to twitch while she was falling asleep. I told her it was ok. Over time, those twitches became jerks. And then the jerks cascaded into a global seizure. As helpless as we felt, we were not helpless. Molly was seen by a doctor–and then another–and another. Underlying disease was ruled out and she was diagnosed properly. Medication was prescribed and adjusted to fit her needs–and her seizures were controlled. Not everyone’s epilepsy story is that simple, of course.
Many of my patients here in Madagascar have epilepsy too. Their seizures were not controlled. They either did not seek treatment, couldn’t afford the prescription that week, or the local “pharmacy” didn’t have anymore of that medication stocked. They have sustained severe burn injuries. They endured mocking laughs, humiliation, ostracism, and loss of employment. What is the difference between them and Molly?
This is Sabrina and Herve. Two adult patients with severe burns from having a seizure and falling into an open fire.
Molly was born in the U.S.
And that wasn’t her choice now, was it?
Access to safe, affordable healthcare is a human right. A human right that is withheld or largely unavailable in African countries. What is happening to these people is not their fault. It is not a result of their poor life-choices. It is not because they are lazy. And we have the ability to do something about it.
I believe in socialism. Ok, not really.
I believe that we are called to be generous. We are called to be excellent and honest businessmen and women. We are called to give so that no one among us has any need.
Thank you. Thank you to everyone who has supported my mission here. I only have one plea. Don’t let your generosity end with me. Don’t forget the needy half a world away. Don’t forget the needy in the “bad area” of your town. Please, please don’t live short-sighted. Every dollar that leaves your hand is an investment. What are you investing in?
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” Acts 4:32-35
God likely won’t praise you for your “on point” manicure. Or the hot car. Or the house. Please, do not be held captive. Do not be enslaved by our “first-world” standard of living. Use it. Use everything you have and do everything you can “unto the Lord.” For HIS kingdom. Maybe you use the hot car to get the attention of the guys at the car show so you can form relationships and talk their ear off about how Jesus changed your life. Maybe your spare bedroom is occupied by a foster child who has never known love. Maybe your manicure design says, “you are loved.” I don’t know. Do not be controlled by anything. Use it to serve.
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” 1 Cor 6:12
We all know that life is short.
Our culture says that life is too short, so have fun at all costs.
But life is entirely too short to live it for yourself.
Life is a vapor. Eternity is forever.
Don’t miss out.