Saturday, April 5, 2008

Economics of Infinity

I live in Cape Town, one of the most magnificent cities in the world. The lifestyle is splendid, truly. South Africa is splendid, all my friends know that this is something I say almost daily. Yet, there is a side to living in Africa (or perhaps it is just what happens when you leave Europe or the USA) life becomes so filled with contrasts. Big beautiful homes and shacks, comfort and opulence next to poverty. It is the world in a microcosm. You can't hide from the differences. In America you can. You can forget that people live on a $1 a day, that people don't eat, have no home and suffer in poverty of unknown proportions.
It is somethign that is so strange about my life in America it is so disconnected. Here you are alive you have to be alive, you have to value what splendor you have been given. That what those of us have is somethign to be cherished.
Today I had a man come to my door, dying of Aids, had been stabbed in the arm by young punks in the ghetto that he lives in. He was broken out with a horrible rash of sorts that said kept him up at night. He needed money, money to pay rent in his shack so that he had a place to sleep. His story is long and winding. He wants to go back to Malawi so that he can die in a place where he will be buried.
Can't I give him a R100? Yes, I can, I can give you that money, I can give you more then that. Here, here it is. I am not a rich man, but I am richer then you. I have a home, a family a job, an education a passport and my health. Here, here is some money. Yes, it will not solve it it will not make it better for him any longer then the R100 will last (maybe $15). But, I will give it. I will give it with my heart of sadness for I know I can not help this man, nor the next or the next that comes to my door.
So, what do you do. How do you help, can you help? What is help? What is giving? I don't know the answer to this question. I do know that I want an answer. That I want to know how it is that our societies, everywhere, have people that need to beg to ask to plead, to cry for your help. They see me, they see you, they see all of us. In our homes, our cars, our restaurants. Laughing playing singing. They see our pleasure and our happiness.
I am thankful, I am so thankful for all that I have and I will always be grateful and I will always acknowledge what I have and pray that I am may help, even a little, those that do not have those that beg and those that have some how fallen outside of societies compassion.

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