Friday, June 9, 2017

The Ability to Work for Change

I think often of being in this new place, of the happiness in small moments, in smiles and jokes and the presence of those among us. As the employees of the school I work at sat in the school chapel yesterday for an end of year celebration marking retirements and employment milestones, I looked around and knew the names of the 75 people sitting all around. I thought of knowing and meeting and being aware of each of these people and just how quickly time moves, just how quickly we become acquainted and adjusted and a part of our surroundings.

I began learning Spanish a few weeks ago. It was a friend who recommended the free app which teaches and tests your language skills. We made plans to get together and continue learning through conversation with one another. The truth is we both hear it almost daily here and know it's spoken by so many who work in jobs we seldom see. It's similar enough to English, and while challenging, I'm looking forward to improving!

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I met up in San Luis Obispo. She was coming north from Los Angeles and I was heading south from Monterey. We walked through the town, caught up, told stories and laughed, and toured the San Luis Obispo Mission after a tasty taco brunch. The Mission system here is quite beautiful, with 21 Catholic Missions established by the Spanish in the 1790s along the coast of what was then Mexico. They stretch from San Diego to San Francisco. I have no photos of the San Luis Obispo mission, but on my drive north through the hot desert, I drove past the tiny town of San Miguel and loved the bell tower ruins I spotted. I pulled over and found another mission I didn't know existed. It was evening and 92 degrees. A train passed by as I began to walk around. A monk was watering the roses and a group of women recited the rosary in Spanish in the chapel. The light and color of the sky was beautiful. 

While in SLO, I purchased a small book, The World as 100 People. It's very visual with graphs and drawings and the facts listed below continue to stay with me.

If the 7 billion people in the world are represented through 100 people,

61 are from Asia and the Middle East, 4 are from the United States.
5 people speak English. 63 speak more than 6,000 other languages other than the 9 most spoken.
1 person owns 48% of the world's wealth.
50 people do not trust their government.
48 people do not have freedom of speech.
20 people live in fear.
48 people live on less than $2.50 USD a day.
40 people cook using solid fuels in open fires.
17 people are unable to read and write.
7 people have a university degree.
11 people own a car.
15 people are undernourished. 1 person is starving.

It is so easy to forget those who live among us, down the street or across the world. I think of the ability we all have to lobby for free press, speech, and governments and how we can all work to stop war and discrimination. The continuing vast inequality in access to food saddens me until I remember how unequal food and wealth distribution can be born of the inequalities we can work to change -- fairness, care, and governments that work for their citizens.

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