The Dust and the Destitute: Journey to Mexico Gives Scholar Perspective

August 27, 2013

Opinion

Editorial By Jacob Lutz

— I headed away from the church; the dust swirled around my feet in columns as I paced through the street in Anapra, Mexico. Rough wooden telephone poles stretched to the sky, tangled vines of power lines crisscrossed haphazardly between them. White shoes dangled lifelessly over the street from the power lines. Row after row of rough cinder block houses lay to my right and left, roofed with nests of trash and corrugated metal, a scrimpy defense against the monsoons that never came. I walked on bone-dry streets of earth.

Having traveled to Mexico on several short-term mission trips, I have witnessed poverty, yet have never experienced it first-hand. I was born in a hospital and have lived in suburban comfort ever since. I eat well, receive an allowance, and attend an excellent public high school. The fans in my house spin gleefully, the air-conditioning maintaining my house at a perfect 75º F. I have done little to deserve this life I live, I have not even started a productive career, yet I live in the top 14% in the world because of my family’s income*.

“How can a teenager justify living in such wealth, while just four hours South, men live in poverty?” asked a family friend. The question lingered in the back of my mind for months, without an answer. I could not give a reason for why I should be so well off. While I have worked hard since I could read, I have not, and could never earn the life I live. It was much easier to try to ignore the question and continue to live life in my own little American world, where I am comfortable, where crime rates are low, and the opportunities wide. I could not ignore it though, because I would be missing something, the part of me that still wanders those streets in Anapra.

It is in those streets that the answer to my family’s friend’s question can be found. I was an unknown nobody, yet adults stopped and stared from their yards, then smiled and waved. I was better off than every single local I met in Anapra, yet how often do I smile and wave at complete strangers? What excuse do I have to be downcast or discontent?

If there is one thing that Mexico has taught me, it is that there is much work to be done, helping the poor in Mexico, and in adjusting my own attitude. I cannot justify my relative wealth, and I cannot justify the hunger and need in Mexico, but I can continue to work to bring help, supplies, and hope to those in need. I can live contentedly, because I live in the most amazing nation on Earth, while striving to make the world a better place no matter where I am.

*www.globalrichlist.com

The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and columnists in this section do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of The Catalyst.

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