Thursday, April 15, 2010
It Has Been Said, or "Happiness Is Not a Fish You Can Catch"...or is it?
"The meek shall inherit the earth," or so it has been said. "Meek" could have been meant to mean god-fearing, humble, simple or poor. It's anyone's guess, but I doubt that any worlds have been inherited yet by them. This blog entry is not about fresh pineapple at the market, or how blue the ocean was today or a torrential rainstorm. No, this entry is about a 42-year old grandmother named Anifa who sat on her dirt floor today showing me her empty kitchen. This is about Ana, a 56 year old Makuah woman who's spirits were high but her CD4 count was not. This is about 18 month old Juma, who playfully crawled on his grandmother while she lay in bed, unable to open her eyes from the side effects of powerful anti-retroviral treatment. This is about them because they have no other voice with which to tell their stories and it is about them because their stories need to be heard. Everyday I see a dozen NGO Range Rovers fly by, and I wonder what their results are here. Sustainability takes a long time, and that is why it's so much easier to beg for change. "If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime," or so it has been said. And this rings true and this rings loudly in my mind each day. But it has also been said, "easier said than done." Sayings and anecdotes abound in the Western Workd because many of us do not really *know* the poverty of the rest of the world and it helps us to cope by saying these things. But when are we going to actually get out in the water and teach that man to fish? Are we going to watch him cast out that line into the ocean while his limbs are barely strong enough to do so? And are we going to deny him a lunch to stave off his hunger until he catches his fish because giving him a piece of bread "is not sustainable?" This rhetoric of capacity-building and permaculture and sustainable living is beautiful and well-meaning, but there are more immediate issues to be dealt with, which brings me back to Anifa, Ana and Juma. They're hungry now and they can't wait-so what are we going to do?