Years ago we had our first awakening to people’s realities.
While I was working we did a medical mission to the Dominican Republic. Our group was bringing open heart surgery to a place that didn’t have this life saving/altering procedure. Upon arriving at the airport we were surrounded by past recipients of surgery that we had preformed in the past. Us going there was the dream of a surgeon I was working with at the time. Our group went at our own expense, passing none of it on. Our work was done on people who couldn’t afford it otherwise, A noble gesture.
While there, we were hosted by some very influential people. On the way to a reception at the end of a long day we passed homes with dirt floors, openings in the walls where doors and windows should be. We passed smiling people. Half dressed, dirty children would wave at us, smiles on their faces, playing in the dirt streets as we passed them. Water in a large jug carried from a central source to where a candle provided the evening light in the dilapidated homes. BUT, these people were smiling, in conditions that many would see as unbearable. Such was there reality and they were happy.
Returning home we decided to change our lives, downsize, give “things” away to people who would appreciate things they may never be able to have. In America, there are also poor people, but their reality is that they are unfortunate. You can see it on faces without a smile. Even if you had a job, or two or three, they knew they didn’t have the “things” others had. They couldn’t keep up with the ones that equated happiness was having things. But even the people with “things” were unhappy, because money can’t buy happiness. It can buy comfort, but happiness is different. It’s why you smile.
Toward the end of my career I worked in Las Vegas, the capital city of unhappiness. I would tell Melanie people working in hospitals were sad people. I could see it in their eyes and faces devoid of happiness. Even the ones with money were unhappy, and would yell at people and cause more unhappiness. One day I did a test. I would go to the hospital on a day I didn’t have to be there and walk the hallways all day long. I wore my white, starched lab coat and wore my stethoscope, hung around my neck. I would smile and say hello to everyone I met. You know what? My observations were correct. No smiles. Some times a reluctant hello, or just a nod. Usually I was just ignored.
Most of these people went home at the end of a work day in a beautiful vehicle and to a family. Their homes were everywhere from nice to extravagant. They would cook a wonderful meal, use the internet on expensive phones, watch TV, take a warm shower with clean, drinkable water that just appeared at the twist of a knob. But, they were still unhappy. Such was their reality, and not knowing anything different, or how fortunate they were to live in a free country, they were sad, or even angry at their station in life.
The CoVID pandemic has changed the world. Some see it for the worse, some for the better. Families and communities around the world are now interacting and helping each other. I went to a restaurant in Egypt today. It was 1pm and we were the only customers. We talked with the owner. He showed us pictures of his restaurant from the past. Full of tourists. We were his first non Egyptian customers in 8 months.
Since the revolution for their freedom in 2011, tourists and Americans stopped coming. A beautiful country and people have suffered economically for years. The pandemic was made things worse. A large portion of the country relies on tourism to make a living. We understand why, when they see white skin, they come running. Their reality shows them America is a land where everyone is rich. But, they still always smile and say welcome. AndAnd we are, to most of the world. But we struggle also. Money is always short, and “things” to make us happy are expensive. Our reality is this.
I wish we could help everyone. Maybe with a big lottery win, it would be more possible.
Hope to see a smile on your faces and happiness in your hearts.
And my wish if for the world to start healing and stop hating.
Cheers, and altered realities,