by Alison Wachtel
We ran in a half marathon to raise awareness and funding for the beautiful and dynamic Maji Mazuri organization. Our focus was to find sponsors for 96 children. Luisa Frias graciously donated her time to design t-shirts for us to wear in the race. And so, the morning of the half-marathon we donned our Maji Mazuri t-shirts, and we were off to the races!
It felt inspiring to wear the Maji Mazuri emblem over my heart, and to have the message of “Running for the Lives of 96 Children” on our backs. That’s what we have-or what we try to have, their backs… As we were running it struck me how many fellow racers had a shirt with an emblem across their hearts and a message on their backs: Childhood cancer, childhood diseases, schools, projects, in memorandum of a loved one, celebrating a survivor of a horrific disease…So in those miles, what I found most beautiful, was the collective energy of all these people running for the betterment of our society, our world. No matter what they were running for, they were running for someTHING or someONE. And that to me was breathtaking. This was the Human Race.
When I went to Nairobi, all those years ago, and I saw the disparity between the rich and the poor, that too was breathtaking. The wealthy were driving on paved roads in their Range Rovers- windows rolled up, heads straight, eyes on the road. And directly next to them, walking in the dirt aside the road, were children, without shoes, playing with sticks in ragged clothes. The drivers of these fancy cars took no notice to all the children around them…Or did they?
Recently I went to a women’s conference organized by Marianne Williamson, where we discussed social and political issues facing our generation and our nation. One of the main focuses was a discussion regarding children living in poverty, right here in our great nation. And this is when I started to squirm in my seat. The rise of children living in poverty has sky-rocketed here in this country. Children living in my town, right under MY nose & meanwhile I get to drive in my cushy-cushy car where my universe is contained, and at the push of a button my ass gets warmed. So this squirming in my seat was good for me, you see? This injustice exists in our country too. It’s not a problem that’s just, “Over there.” It is Right here in my town. It’s in your town. And worst yet, it’s growing. We may not see the children but they are here- they are suffering, they are cold, they are hungry, they are scared. This too is the Human Race. This is the shadow side.
This disparity between the rich and poor exists, it is striking & the WORLD needs healing. Only when we are aware to a problem can we give rise to a solution. To shine a light on it, even as hard as it is to look at “it”, brings about an awareness to its existence. WE do this so we may come to the conclusion, THIS is injustice. THIS is inhumane. WE need to change our mindset at how we view the poor, especially the children. NO Child should go to bed hungry. Ever.
WE the people just had another election. A very contested election season that lasted FOREVER with a total of FOUR BILLION dollars spent to fund essentially two parties. I like to think of how those billions of dollars could have been better spent, especially for our children and education… Jeffrey Sachs, world famous economist, director of The Earth Institute, professor at Columbia University, and author of The Price of Civilization, as well as, The End of Poverty, touts, if countries acted globally we could end poverty now. Poverty could end with this generation. This economic philosophy is not to simply continue safety nets, but to provide concrete opportunities to end the vicious and systematic cycle of poverty.
When we finally realize we are in this “thing” together, when we see the best in each other, when we exercise our voices and truly listen, when we practice the art of compromise, when we are lifting our neighbor UP instead of tearing them down, when we STOP judging and START feeling, when we act with our hearts and souls attached to our minds rather our pocketbooks, when the bottom line is people and not money– we are then the collective human race. And a collective human race can eradicate poverty here in my town, there in your town and around the world. It is the choosing to SEE the ugliness of our society and to ACT to be a part of the solution, not the problem.
Every day we get the choice to choose what kind of person we are going to be. Every day you put on a shirt with an emblem across your heart and a message across your back. It is your choice if your message is positive or negative. My message to you is this, “Be the Change you wish to see in the world.” This was stated and lived by Gandhi. My hope is, your message is a positive one. You matter. You make a difference. And so do those living and suffering below the poverty line. No matter where they live, and no matter how they got there. We are ALL God’s children.