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The 2 - Faced Man
Close your eyes. Block out your mom yelling at you to clean your room. Shut out your dad lecturing you about a football scholarship. Ignore your younger siblings asking you to buy them chocolates - or older siblings telling you to get lost!
Forget for a second that you have to go to school early next morning and the fact that there's a Biology textbook heavier than a brick sitting on your desk waiting for you to study. In fact, forget that you even go to school or know what the world is capable of with a pencil and a paper.
Imagine sitting in an apartment and staring out the window every morning and seeing everything you only dreamed wouldn't exist.
A three-year old sitting on the streets surrounded by garbage because he has no home - naked and dirty because he can't afford clothes. His mom is dressed in rags - in the same clothing she wore yesterday, and the day before. And the day before.
She's holding her younger son - wearing a piece of cloth around his thin waist - and begging from car to car - people to people - for money - trying to get the pity she can get by sacrificing her baby in the heat of the sun just so someone would give her one coin.
The people in the cars turn away from the woman and her child as if they weren't there - not out of irritation but ashamed at what their country has to offer.
If a woman sitting in one of those cars were to steal a peek at the baby - the mother instinct inside of her would refuse to take another glance. No mother wants to see their child in such pain - so much that the baby has learned nothing but pain in the short time he was alive. There are no signs of lines from ever laughing on his face because he doesn't know what that is. His mother never laughs because she's busy trying to steal food for her son - and may be if she can, some money.
His brother stares at children in uniforms going to school every morning dreaming of what it's like to just sit in a chair and have a pencil to hold. He knows that will never be him and therefore finds very little in life to be happy about. The two brothers probably never met their dad and even if they had one - he would be ill and depressed at what little he could do for his family.
If you were a baby and this is what you saw growing up, you would hate God and your mother for giving birth to you and bringing you into this meaningless world that you have no use for and has no use for you. This is already unmistakable as the child sweats in his mother's arms, eyebrows crossed and red eyes empty and blank. He has aged 60 years in his few months of life.
The people in the cars turn away - and so do I. Pretending that beggars like that didn't exist seems to be a better solution than actually doing something about it.
Picture for a second that you did go to school and you are a young teenage girl sitting in class and have a serious need to go to the bathroom after drinking 3 cups of water in the heat and sweating with only 3 small fans circling above you. You have your period and are becoming ill but are forced to sit in your desk, legs crossed waiting for the school bell to ring so you can go home and free yourself from the tension. Why? Because your school doesn't have a bathroom built for the girls. And even if they did, it's so unsanitary that you would rather hold everything in than take the chance of going in there.
Now imagine this. You're a 45 - year old man married with 3 kids. You live in the village in a house with a tin roof. You had the chance to go to school but unfortunately, when so young and forced to study and be top of your class, it seems more like a chore that you parents are making you do to teach you a lesson. As a result, you never understood how far education can take you until now. You're angry at yourself and at the world and are taking it out on your wife and kids. The bathroom is a single hole dug in the hard mud and the kitchen is literally a fire pit in the ground. No chairs - no tables - just small stools about 3 inches high for you to kneel and cook. Outside your house is just mud. Bricks are laid out as sidewalks for you to step on when the rain makes it impossible to keep your feet on the muddy ground.
Don't open your eyes yet. There's one more thing I want you to see. Your Biology textbook isn't going anywhere and as a matter of fact, what I'm about to tell you next will make you realize how insignificant that textbook along with all the other homework piled on your desk can become.
You're 24. Still young. Just starting your life. You're the youngest of 6 siblings. Once upon a time you went to school and one day came home thinking to yourself that school is pointless - you're living in an underdeveloped country and no amount of study is going to get you anywhere. So you drop-out. Your family scolded you but knew you wouldn't listen and would do whatever made you content. Ever since then you knew you had to find a way to get out of this country. There's no system to how people led their lives. All you needed was money and the police will release you of all charges - be it stealing a car or killing a man. You're lost and the roads are packed with people and you find someone who can give you directions but won't until you can show them some money.
Now an adult, you're doing everything you can to get that money and everyday regret the day you walked out of class and never turned back. Now you've become desperate to get out of that country. You'll do anything to leave your family and come to Canada, Europe - wherever there's clean streets and good people. You don't have any education but that doesn't matter. You'll be a garbage cleaner if you have to - you'll be alone and an outcast but you don't care. There will be clean water, decent people, an adequate house where the electricity never runs out and proper health care and service. That's all you want. What you have right now is nothing and will continue to be nothing.
Open your eyes.
You and I both go to school every day trying to get better grades than the kid sitting next to us, kids in other classes and kids that are our best friends. One bad mark and the whole day is ruined. No amount of books, number of teachers or time on the internet will help us feel smarter of ourselves.
One humiliating break-up and life becomes unfair. People suck and so do our lives.
That grad dress was on sale for only $300.00 but mom and dad said no. Grad is not going to be like you dreamed - you no longer have the perfect dress. Just a tight red slender for $100.00.
This is what we know life to be. We have everything we need but still want more. We are not naked and dirty starving on the streets so it shouldn't be our problem who is in the world. But what if that was us - naked and dirty starving on the streets? There would be another person sitting in our desk studying our Biology textbook worrying about the final the following day. That person wouldn't care if we had clothes or food. They want to focus on their future and make sure they get what they want out of life before anybody else. Imagine how much we would hate that person and everyone else like them. Our lives would be none of their business but they would continue to say, "I'll make the world a better place someday and end poverty" without lifting a finger from their chair.
They are the 2-faced man. And the man before them. And the man before them. From who we originally learned this hypocritical practice is unknown but it's a legacy that's been passed on from generations to generations. It's become a part of our blood - the quality that defines humans. The quality that defines me.
I refuse to be that 2-faced man. But hundred before me have said the same thing and ended up in the same place I am in right now - facing a laptop - writing about poverty hoping somebody will read it and be inspired and finally do what I keep telling myself each night before I go to bed I'll do to make a difference.
I could tell myself the same thing tonight - tomorrow night -and the night after that. Someone living in the next city or even the next house could be doing the exact same thing. But which one of us will actually make it out the door? Or make it out of bed!
"I will make a difference" ; a child is growing up clothe less in the streets becoming a teenager without a single coin to buy a pair of pants.
"I will make a difference" ; a young teenage girl is becoming ill in her classroom from menstruation without a single bathroom for protection.
"I will make a difference" ; a family and a young man are desperately seeking ways to find a better home - one with clean streets and a shelter with a real roof instead of a tin.
"I will make a difference" ; a child dies from a cancrum oris ; a young girl dies from a kidney disease ; a family and a young man are forced to struggle with what they have and pass that on to their next generation of children who learn to suffer in the same way their elders before them had.
"I will make a difference." Nothing.
"I will make a difference." Still nothing.
Isn't it about time we try something that's a little more than what we have been getting for the last two times?