After spending two weeks with South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, coming back to the luxuries of everyday American life has been hard. Having my own room, air conditioning, no mosquito nets, and the abundance of food are welcomed luxuries that I missed. But, I find it hard that the refugees don't have these simple things that I consider normal. In fact, some don't have a home, an intact family, nor soap or salt. The worst realization is that my dog has more to eat every day than hundreds of thousands of human beings.
I couldn't take these facts. I wanted to change them. The only difference between the refugees and me is luck. I was born into the top 1% of the world. It wasn't my choice, and nor did they choose to be born in the bottom 10%. They didn't deserve all the suffering as much as I don't deserve all the luxuries. Even worse, their suffering is unnecessary. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone. There is enough soap in the world for everyone to have some.
At face value, the problem seems so easy, but in reality, it is almost impossible. All they need is some food, and we have too much food. However, shipping food is costly and not sustainable in the long term. Plus, the soil there is very fertile. So, let's just grow more food there. The farms there won't work.
They are family owned, tiny, and use hoes. Let's get tractors and bigger farms to produce more food. We will have to train people to work the tractors and fix them when they are broken. However, as the supply of food goes up, the price of food will go down which would plunge native farmers into further poverty, causing them to flee from their farms hoping to make some more money in the city. This would create a giant influx of urban poverty and lead to more starvation as there are fewer farmers.
The world is too complicated for me. I have no idea what a solution could be. Even if I found one, it would probably find a way to be stopped as happened to Maggy Barankitse. As a teacher, she started adopting orphans during the Burundi civil war. She adopted so many that she had to start Maison Shalom, a House of Peace for orphans. She ended up helping the lives of almost 50,000 children. After denouncing the inhuman behavior of the president of Burundi, she had to flee Burundi and Maison Shalom was shut down by the government in Burundi.
In the face of such immense evil, I am powerless. I can do nothing but watch. I am mediocre. There are people with far greater intellect and talent who can do so much more to help these people. Listening to all the successful people saying work hard and you'll make it are lying. Their success is built out of luck. Yes, they had hard work and are incredibly smart, but luck was the determining factor of their success. Luck is circumstance. Timing, money, connections, and hundreds of other things have contributed to their success. Not anyone can have it. The world is terribly unfair.
That isn't totally true as there has been a ton of progress over just the past 30 years. Making small steps is much easier than making giant leaps. And, enough small steps leads to a giant leap. Through my trip to Uganda, I've learned to be a little easier on myself.
I realized that it isn't my fault that people are unnecessarily suffering. It is okay if I don't eat every grain of rice on my plate. It is okay if I have more than one pair of shoes. All these blessings carry with them the responsibility to be a blessing. So, in whatever small ways I can, I will try to be a blessing to those around me. The biggest changes I will do in the world will be to myself, to make myself into that blessing for others, and that is enough of a challenge to keep me busy for a very long time.