“One day there will be no borders, no boundaries, no flags and no countries and the only passport will be the heart” ~ Carlos Santana
I come from a line of nomads. People who left their ancestral lands in search of opportunities, vocations, a living, a dream. My grandmother was born in Patagonia (Argentina), a cruel landscape that had been sold to a group of Welsh settlers as a land as verdant and productive as their own, but with more opportunities. Unfortunately the reality was harsh, the men had to battle the elements and the unyielding soil while their women suffered but strived to make a home. My great-grandmother lost four of her seven children to Patagonia – some as babies, one who lived to be five, before they gave up and returned to England. They then set off for Canada – another land of dreams, but one winter was enough to chase them back to England.
There have been travellers on both sides of my family tree. So leaving England to grow up in Jamaica was just the latest in a long line of adventures. Today travel requires far less planning and upheaval. Which means that other things can travel just as easily.
Sometimes we get complacent about the safety of our world. We hear things like Ebola virus and we think – that is an African problem. We hear about strife and conflict in the Middle East and we think – that is their problem. We see the news and read stories about all manner of problems, and almost feel numb, unable to comprehend man’s inhumanity to man. And yet it can touch us in an instant. A civilian plane, with no thought of being involved in war, drops out of the sky. Dreams ended, lives shattered, for what reason? Bombs, which are nicely described as ‘shelling’ , as if we are getting ready to cook some peas, destroy a school, killing and maiming children. I was distraught when I heard that the Israeli response to the kidnapping of the teenagers was called ‘Brother’s Keeper’. How can I be my brother’s keeper through war? Who is my brother?
Nurses get to see people without their clothes, even without their skin at times. Babies are born with the same basic needs and potential all over the world. The differences are added after the fact. The value of a person’s life seems to be based on an accident of birth, a geographical chance. If you are fortunate, you are born into a culture of peace and prosperity. Far too many of our children do not have the luxury of a simple expectation of freedom from fear.
Children fleeing violence take tremendous risks to cross the border into the US. It is unbelievable to me that there are those who consider these children to be a threat to their wellbeing, and shamelessly protest against them. Where is the heart, the compassion, the recognition of the humanity? We create the potential for revolution and uprising when we fail to treat people with dignity and fairness. By denying others the opportunities that we have enjoyed, we breed resentment, so don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite us in the future.
The other day I watched an interview of Elon Musk, cofounder of PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX (he builds rockets!). This young man has made billions off his brilliant inventions. Yet he has chosen to share his inventions with the world. He does not keep his secrets and patents to himself, trying to outwit the competition. When asked why, his answer was that we are all in this together. If we were all in a sinking boat, and he had a perfect bucket to bail out the water, while the rest of us had holes in our buckets, we would all sink. But if he shared his patent for his perfect bucket, then maybe we would have a chance to survive.
When we sit in our comfortable bubble, congratulating ourselves on our good fortune, we neglect to see that the world is getting closer and closer. Problems abroad can just jump on a plane and come to our door whether it is the Ebola virus or terrorism. We are One. And until we live as if we are brothers, fighting for every child to have an expectation of growing up healthy and safe, we need to be prepared for tragedy to come knocking on our own front door.
It is time for us to demand more of our leaders. In the US the politicians spend their time bickering about nothing, squandering their time and efforts on inconsequential irrelevancies, while the rest of the world burns. When last did you call your senator? Do you know how easy it is to call them, to deliver a message, to sign a petition, to log on to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments and let them know what you care about. Remember the words of Edmund Burke who said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
So this Friday morning, we can ask: Am I my brother’s keeper? And do I get to define who is my brother? Or are we all members of one human race? Until we work consciously towards that dream, recognizing that globalization means that what used to be half a world away is now just next door, we are living like the ostrich.
Have a wonderful weekend, family!
One Love! One Heart! One Family!