June 9, 2016

Before you Set Off to Save the World, Read This.

man boy teen sad intense mad

Tonight a child goes hungry, and he lives five miles down the road.

A mother of four is battered and beaten and crying herself to sleep, not knowing where to turn to. But she will sit next to you in church on Sunday, long sleeves to cover the bruises.

We want to travel and see the world.

The images are everywhere.

We must go save the children and make them more like Americans—more like us.

We fly to the moon to save the stars.

Yet, it’s pitch black where we call home.

Are we in love with who we are when we call ourselves missionaries?

Are we in love with the photographs of us humbly serving those who we subconsciously see as less than us?

Or are we in love with humanity?

I’m not sure I know anymore.

In our own country,

In our own backyard,

A baby sleeps tonight,

While her mother sells her body for milk and eggs,

A father buries his son for being in the wrong place at the wrong time,

But a gun is our individual right they say,

Read the constitution,

We must bear arms,

But the father bears his soul on his 17-year-old’s coffin tonight.

We teach in Thailand, Africa—anywhere but here.

But there are parents in America who won’t be able to read their children a bedtime story tonight,

To half of America, education is a foreign concept.

We have dreams to wear the perfect body by completing another squat challenge—create the perfect persona with another photograph—to let the world know we are doing something right.

But what right are we doing, when our own backyard is in flames?

And if we don’t acknowledge what wrongs we are committing by caving to societal norm, then will we ever recognize our self-inflicted pain at all?

The little boy at the back of the classroom is too busy thinking about how he will take care of his mom tonight, when she comes high on crack cocaine and smells of sex and booze. He will tuck her in and sing her a lullaby, and she will cry tears that stain the pillow, because she knows roles should be reversed.

But we, as educators, roll our eyes because he won’t write his notes down for class.

The little boy has no need for notes.

He will drop out in a few years to take care of his mother and siblings.

But we keep harping on what he isn’t, and we forget what he is.

We keep traveling the globe to save lost souls, teaching children how to read and people how to live.

Who are we to say anything at all?

When a child goes hungry and lives five miles down the road.



Author: Emily Gordon

Image: Nicki Varkevisser/Flickr 

Editors: Emily Bartran; Yoli Ramazzina

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