Hey, everyone! Hope you had a great weekend!
I’ll be writing 2 posts this week, 1 today and 1 on Friday, because I wanted to post something about the special holiday happening today and how it is connected to the work World Vision is doing. As you know, today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There are endless things to talk about when it comes to Dr. King’s work and impact, but today I want to focus on the idea of facing the impossible.
We all know that Dr. King was one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, which was (and is) the fight for racial equality in our country. I could write a thesis (or 1000) on the history of injustice and pain that led to this movement being necessary, but to make an extremely long story short, black people (or more generally, all non-white people, regardless of origin of birth) were quite simply never viewed as fully worthy of the rights inherent to a citizen of the United States. I don’t know the ethnic backgrounds of each of you, but if you typically check “white/caucasian” on the ethnicity portion of the informational form at your doctor’s office, go with me for a moment and let’s put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Ready?
Imagine that it is the early 1950s, you have darker skin, and you want SO BADLY to be treated with respect in your own town. Perhaps you think, “It’d be so nice to not be called names, to be able to go to a decent school, to vote with ease, to sit anywhere on the public bus…” But sitting directly behind those worthy thoughts are hundreds of years of history in your own country saying that those simple pleasures are practically inconceivable for you. No one in your family has ever had those rights, no one that even looks like you has had those rights – EVER. There’s no precedent in your entire worldview to say that you can ever have the same rights as the white people in your own town. Sure, those things would be nice – but they’re impossible, right?
Now imagine that you hear a young minister saying that those things ARE possible, that the lack of equality between you and your white neighbors is unjust, and that he wants to change the system that creates that inequality. WHAT? I mean, sure – great. But how? Everyone with the power to change things are white – and usually, white people aren’t your biggest fans. Where would you even start? Will anything ever change? Isn’t this unattainable? Is it worth the effort if it will never go anywhere?
I’ve had a pretty privileged life. I can’t personally relate to the questions a black person in 1950s America may have had about the possibility futility of the Civil Rights Movement. But I have had things in my life that I cared about that seemed pretty hopeless. I can imagine that being the “first” to do anything must be terrifying. But the beautiful audacity of Martin Luther King Jr. was that he had hope and vision even in the face of a correctly-labeled insurmountable task: achieving racial equality in the United States. Because of his hope and work, an entire country was changed culturally and legally to better promote racial equality. Things are far from perfect, but the Civil Rights Movement unequivocally got things going in the right direction, accomplishing things that were truly seen as impossible prior to their existence.
In so many ways, World Vision has a similar audacity when it comes to facing the worthy foe of extreme poverty. Countries that World Vision serves, like Senegal, are often victims of colonialism – an institutionalized, racist practice that historically stripped countries of their cultures, plunged populations into the throes of slavery and classism, and completely tore down the existing economic systems. Ultimately, colonialism was the main catalyst for much of the devastating poverty that exists in these countries todays. Recovery from that can feel, well, impossible. Yet, World Vision has chosen to face it head on, having something audacious on their side: hope. Just like Dr. King, they are not scared away by the enormity of the task or the lack of success in the past. They see something unjust and are willing to risk it all to be a part of the solution.
On that note, I’m pleased to introduce another one of our sponsored kiddos. This child is worth the sponsorship, the work, and hope that it takes to defeat poverty in her life. She deserves to grow up in economic stability, she deserves the chance to raise a future family outside of the dangerous cycle of poverty, she deserves quality education, & she deserves to have a good life.
Dienabou – 14 years old – Lives in Sinthiang Koundara, Senegal with her parents and 4 siblings – Loves to dance – Her favorite subject is mathematics.
Keeping these faces at the forefront of our minds as we strive to be a part of this solution is vital. We must remember that defeating extreme poverty is not just a nice idea – it’s a crucial part of the overall life success of the kids that we have come to care about. World Vision refuses to give up and we must, too. Happy MLK Day!