There Are No Murders In Africa

The above image is not from my recent trip to East Africa, but is a screen-cap from the film The Constant Gardener. I’ve watched this movie, and I just kept rewinding this sequence in the first part of the movie (Chapter Index 3, on the DVD entitled “yes or no”) that just shows 45 seconds of life in Kibera. I was so amazed of how accurate life in Kenya was portrayed in this film. But what it left me with was this longing to return. I do miss it there, a lot. I miss the purity there. And by pure, I don’t mean innocent, naive, or even simple. But pure. Emotions are allowed to exist, people are allowed to speak, it’s something hard to explain, and it’s something so subtle, that I can only really describe it as a feeling. It is something you can just breath as you walk down the street.

Lately, I am starting to draw many parallels between the obvious that I experienced in Kenya and the life we live here in the States. People are generally the same, with a good number of exceptions. I think one of the big differences I’m facing is the fact that we here can afford to worry about things that many in Kenya do not worry about, or to a lesser extent. Self-help doesn’t really exist in the communities I worked with in Kenya, at least to the extent that it matters here. Who has time to help themselves?? Finding a school, going to work, feeding a family, and rejoicing and enjoying life in between; some things are ok to just let go of. The self-help phenomenon is huge in the U.S. and really, who doesn’t own a copy of “Your Best Life Now” or “Road Less Travelled” or “South Beach Diet” or

I certainly have a good share of these titles (not the South Beach Diet, tho, I like Egyptian baladi bread too much). One thing I felt there, is that it was more OK to just be able to live life, imperfect. Human.

I wonder if we try to transcend ourselves somtimes; I know I do. But there was an amazing freedom to be able to live in a society where I was able to let go of a lot of these superficialities, and of course, the eventualities.

And even in regards to religion in America, how much emphasis is placed on healing. Healing of emotional wounds, and scars, and memories. Spending so much time on the ideas and passages of healing, and not much on those about sacrifice. I have had my own share of wounds in this life, as every human on the planet. Not a man nor woman exists who hasn’t been hurt, deeply, in some way. And I do believe everyone deserves a time of reflection and understanding, and reconciliation. But there comes a time where one must move ahead. I can’t tell you how many churches out there are preaching the idea that people can be healed from every hurt and every wound. Why would that be the goal of the church, that I can go to church so I can heal myself, or can be healed by a higher power?

Whatever happened to the notion that a church can be a place where I can go, to come together to heal each other and to heal this world.

And I don’t mean by going door to door with a pamphlet with a recipe for salvation! There are tears that need to be wiped, and the kleenex does NOT need to be watermarked with a religious emblem. There are stomachs that need to be filled, and these sandwiches that are doing the filling do not need to have your favorite verses folded up inside. Add extra lettuce instead. An act of love can speak far greater truths than any sermon, than any study; than any tract.

I can afford to lose myself at times, because my life is being taken care of. I get lost pretty often.

I get very passionate when it comes to these topics, because I take them very seriously and I’ve had my own journey through these thoughts and the different modes of approaching life, and trying to experience it in its fullness, and at 28, I realize I know less than I did when I first started, but one thing I have the suspicious feeling of, is the fact that life is much simpler than we make it out to be at times.

Often times our answers are deep down, in our very gut. I often know exactly what I need to be doing, and somehow have become an expert at distracting myself from doing it. But I don’t blame myself, I don’t even blame MTV, I don’t even blame MySpace. I don’t blame anything! That’s just the way it is. But part of the beauty of life is being able to navigate through it, and make all the mistakes I’m supposed to make, and gradually figure it out, and pass our knowledge to future generations, who will only take what they can, but have to re-learn all the lessons themselves.

And maybe…. maybe that’s an ineffecient approach to building a society, but it works. Imagine those who were born into families where they’re given the keys to Grand Central Station… what can they appreciate if everything was given to them. We’d never value our own lives, or each other, if all the answers were given to us.

Inefficient, yes, but perfect nonetheless.

I don’t  where I was going with all that – just some thoughts on my mind tonight.
This one quote stood out, rings with truth and its a statement about the global condition. One that many of us are just not aware of. This was made in regards to the exploitation of Africans in pharmaceutical trials:

“No, there are no murders in Africa.
Only regrettable deaths.

And from those deaths
we derive the benefits of civilization,

benefits we can afford so easily…

because those lives
were bought so cheaply.”

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