Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Invigorated by God's Growing Tired

The latest in a long list of documentaries I've Netflixed this month included a treat called "God Grew Tired of Us." Three Sudanese Lost Boys were profiled as they immigrated to New York and Philadelphia.

The young men's naivety was refreshing. Here they were, the age of most of my students, but with no Play Stations or iPods or even running water. They were infatuated with electricity, were taught not to throw garbage out the window, and ate butter straight, asking if it was cheese or maybe meat?

All were dedicated to working one, two, even three jobs in factories and fast-food restaurants.

They wanted an education, but taught more to the Americans than they could've ever possibly learned themselves. There was no sense of entitlement. Of victimization.

To our afluenzic culture, this is anthropologically fascinating. And also spiritually.

"I feel sorrow for them," one boy said about his community of brothers left behind in the refugee camp. His sending money did not assuage his guilt at having a "nice place" (an apartment in Pittsburgh).

Over and over, each boy empathized with the refugees stuck in Africa.

It made me think about living here. In America, in Ashland. Where folks pull their hybrid Hylanders to screeching stops at Bikram yoga studios and sweat it out in mountain pose, their hands at their hearts.

Compassion.

Here we have everything--running water, electricity, butter--and we have to learn, to practice, to achieve the basic principles of kindness, of understanding, of love.

These boys didn't have much, but they did have that. In terms of everything, that is a lot.

4 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love this post. It is powerful, emotional, and beautiful.

"Here we have everything--running water, electricity, butter--and we have to learn, to practice, to achieve the basic principles of kindness, of understanding, of love."

You are so right.

Jennie Englund said...

Thanks, Shannon. The movie was really inspiring. A good reminder of what's important. Especially right now.

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