I've been thinking a lot about my trip to Africa, trying to decide what exactly it meant to me. And somehow, I only came up with one incredibly surprising thing.
I am proud to be an American.
I know, I'm crazy. I go to Africa and I get all Lee Greenwood on you. But for all the things America stands for that I loathe (i.e. greed, selfishness, obesity, sloth - basically a majority of the 7 Deadly Sins), I truly am blessed to live here.
For one thing, I can have this blog and say whatever I want on it without the fear of someone hunting me down and cutting off my fingers. Seriously, some people don't have that "luxury". I can vote for whoever I want, again without fear of dismemberment. I can believe what I want, say what I want, learn what I want, do what I want, as long as it doesn't kill anybody.
And there are people who died to make that happen. There are people today still making tough choices to ensure that it stays that way. I don't always agree with those choices, but I have to believe that over all, whoever is in charge is doing the right thing, and that ultimately the Lord is in control. And that He put me in the United States of America for a reason.
Why I realized this in Kenya is a little difficult to explain. Obviously, the stark contrast to our freedoms here was a bit overwhelming. I get pissed here if my water smells too much of the chemicals that make it clean. Kenyan children walk up to 20 miles a day to get semi-clean-ish water. You think unemployment here is bad? Try 40% in Kenya. And violence? There are between 250,000-400,000 internally displaced people STILL living in tents in the Rift Valley after the election in 2007. (By the way, that range means they really have NO IDEA how many are out there.)
I never have to worry about that. But what I do have to worry about is why I don't have to worry about it. Is there a reason the good Lord (who really is good, by the way) put me here and not there? I think there is. I think we are blessed so that we can bless others. That is the only thing I can think of. That is what we are here for. And oh my, if Americans really lived up to what they are here for, the world would seriously be a better place. We can make the world a better place.
And I think we are trying. America sends billions and billions of dollars to third world countries. I think Bush sent 48 billion to Africa alone. Not to mention all of our philanthropists and missionaries who send not only money, but people and time, one of America's most beloved resources.
I won't keep going, but suffice it to say that as wicked as America and Americans can be, there is so much good here that we cannot overlook nor take for granted. We have one of the most organized governments in the world - so much so that a pothole doesn't even go unnoticed. A pothole. Have you ever driven in Africa??
Fixing a flat tire. This happens quite often.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this - especially from you non-Americans out there...what is your view on America vs. the "third world"? Are we "here" and others "there" for a reason?