Sunday, December 19, 2010

Musings about Ethiopia and travel.

Two blogs this morning resonated with me this morning. The first talked about finding a guide who would show the blogger around sample as much food in Mumbai as possible, The second by a PCUSA educator in Ethiopia talked of Christmas in Kenya as the slum children don't have food and the wealthy travel to the shore to stay in expensive resorts.

Travel to the developing world is fraught with hypocrisy. The difference between what I have and what most of the people who live there have is enormous. I give money to the beggars until my wad of bills and coins is exhausted. (I do not give to children, though. Most guidebooks caution it teaches them to beg and not go to school--but many don't go to school anyway.) I could choose to stay home and then be confronted only by the poor and homeless here. Mary's song resonates in my head. The hungry shall be filled and the rich turned away. I could give away all that I have, but like the rich young man, I don't want to. I like my nice home (much larger than I really need). I like to eat good food. (The irony of my joy at losing three pounds eating Ethiopian fasting food while so many don't have enough is not lost on me.) I love to travel to far away places many people only dream of going.

I always come back grateful to have been born in the US, having had the parents I had who valued education, being able to work and save and spend. I am always convinced that if I had been born in other circumstances I would not have been able to work myself out of poverty. Travel sharpens my understanding of my privilege, the gifts I have been given that I have not worked for, have done nothing to deserve.

And I am left with what is my response?

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