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Jewel in Cambodia Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Jewel explains it all

My apologies for the extreme length of the two previous entries, and for the length of time between these entries and now. As long as it takes you to read my entry, it takes me quite a bit longer to brain-up and write. I'm a busy girl. Deal.

I'm 18 now and it has been within just the past few years that I have really started to think for myself. My parents and friends have their own opinions, beliefs, and thoughts, and in growing up I have been forced to make my own. Some I have rationalized and kept for my own, others I have thrown out. There are a few people in my life that I can turn to for advice but ultimately it is up to my own judgment to make the best decisions.

I hate racism. Probably only my closest friends know how true this is. What makes anyone superior to anyone else? Pride leads to the downfall. I've seen racism and discrimination of other sorts ruin relationships. To discriminate socially is to make a distinction between people on the basis of class or category without a regard to individual merit. It is not solely an act of exclusion, it is a simple thought of distinction. Social equality should prevail, all of mankind deserve the same status of approval. Looking around me I see racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic and age-related discrimination. It's ugly. Stereotypes, ideas about members of particular groups, are such awful things. Many will fight to prove me wrong, but generalized behaviors and attributes have nothing to do with genetics, I'm sorry, it's culture and it's environment. What does that have to do with race? All tall people are not phenomenal basketball players, and all African Americans are not violent. I thrive on love and acceptance and in a few short years I will be the minority. I have felt a call to move away from my home, to a foreign land, and love the people.

On another note, I really have no interest at all in politics. I am registered to vote, but whether I will take advantage of this opportunity or not, I have yet to decide. I am quite aware that back in the day women fought for the right to vote. I just find it hard to believe that my 1 vote will make a difference. I do have a concerns with certain political issues like the US/Mexican border, but its not enough motivation to vote. I havn't done the research and without the appropriate facts and information I believe it's not right to take a stand and vote.

The last random subject in this random blog - twinship. I love my sister to death, but my individuality means alot to me as well. I put alot of value in my name because to some people, thats all they see different. If you can't get my name right, you don't know who I am, and that hurts, alot actually. The Reed twins are two different people. Please do not assume if Jessie is good at math, then I must be too; if I can sing well, then Jessie must too. I love being a twin, but it is not who I am, it is just what I am. Thank you :)

And to end this on a lighter note.. MMM BOP!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

poor and hungry, abandoned and neglected - sympathy, compassion, and humility

In most nations faced with war and AIDS, a significant number of the young population is orphaned, which is a major humanitarian crisis. "Orphan" is a word that usually evokes sympathy and compassion in our culture (the Western World) but is a dreaded label that means hardship, pain and shame in other countries.

Sympathy means 'sharing feelings'. Compassion means 'suffering with'. But can we really 'share feelings' or 'suffer with' someone whose grief or suffering we can observe from only a distance? In a film or in a picture? Can we actually feel sympathy or compassion for the children in Zambia who have been abandoned because their parents were taken by AIDS. What about the woman in Niger whose husband was tortured and slaughtered, whose sons have been burned alive, whose daughters have been raped and kidnapped as spoils of war, whose village and farms have been burned to the ground? Can we actually feel sympathy or compassion for the man in Russia or China or Saudi Arabia who, simply for his beliefs or ethnic extraction has been imprisoned, tortured and starved every day of his adult life with no end or hope in sight, and for no conceivable purpose?

Having seen first-hand experience of excruciating pain in various hurting villages around the world I cannot pretend that I 'share the feelings' or 'suffer with' others whom I have seen in obvious ache and discomfort, or those that face such anguish, physical or mental, every day of their lives. I give money to charities, but it is not out of guilt, nor is it out of sympathy or compassion, if I am honest with myself. What then do I feel for others in their varying times of misfortune?

Humility, the modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance. Humility is lowliness, meekness, submissiveness. Humility is a lack of pride that keeps one grounded, it keeps us connected to the rest of life on Earth. Our society has lost our groundedness, our love of all other life for its own sake. We have retreated into our disconnected worlds, hiding from the unimaginable terror of today. It is this disconnection, not lack of sympathy or compassion, that allows man to subject others to, and to ignore the plight of others who fall victim to, suffering.

Probably most if not all who read this blog are familiar with the song, "Jesus Loves the Little Children." Even a good number of people who weren't brought up in church know it. Perhaps you were brought up in a Christian home, as I was, and like myself, you sang that warm and assuring little chorus in Sunday School nearly every Sunday. ("Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.") It's cliche, but that word precious has gotten to me. Precious means- cherished, valuable, or cute.

I really couldn't put it into better words, so here you go:
Hear the Cries of the African Children (a poem by Richman Syabbamba)
Hear the cries of the African children
Poor and hungry, abandoned and neglected
Listen to the cries of the African continent
The earth quickly swallows mothers and fathers
Death rapidly claims parents and guardians
Hear the cries of the African children

Africa has become a troubled continent
HIV and AIDS is pulling many into the earth
Every single day crowds gather to mourn for their departed loved ones
I hear people wailing, I see them weeping
Mothers and fathers mourn the deaths of their sons and daughters
Young men and young women mourn the deaths of their parents
Widows and widowers are left miserable and destitute
Death orphans many day after day

Born fatherless in poverty and squalor
My early childhood was all about sickness, sadness and loneliness
Now I have to put up with hunger, starvation and hard labour,
My mother the only person I counted on passed on
The world may be against me but I will press on
Press on to ward off the cares of this life

Memories of my parents are all I was left with
They passed away before I could barely know them
I try to think, I try to recollect
But the memories are hazy and distorted
There is no trace, no photograph
And no estate to claim
Gone! It's gone! It's all gone!

I have no father, no mother, no brothers and no sisters
My future was dim if not bleak
The world seemed to be closing in on me
I roamed and wandered everywhere
Fear and hopelessness loomed everywhere
But thank God for World Hope International Zambia
It's true God is the Father of the Fatherless
He has become the Light of Hope for my life

and I Became the Object of His Love
(a song by Richman Syabbamba)

I came into this world one day
A helpless little child
I rested in my mother's arms
But only for a little while
I never saw my father
My mother went to be with God
And I became an orphan
Just at one

I became the object of His love
I found the favor of the King above
Made His face to shine on me
Gave me job within my heart
He gave me peace of mind
I became the object of His love
I found the favor of the King above
I became the object of His love
And that's the beauty, the wonder of it all

Wandering from home to home
Searching for a place called home
Looking for the looks of love
But I never could find love
The streets became my dwelling
Until I found the love of Christ
The passion fo God's people
For a young street child

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

Inspired by: Jabulani Africa (Rejoice Africa), and Bayete Inkosi (King of Kings).

I sort of rambled this blog. Expect to read more on this topic.