A Heart Here and There

Back home, I find myself missing India every day. Don’t get me wrong – I love my country, and I love Austin. I enjoy the conveniences and the comfort of my home; my daughter and family and friends. I live in a great eclectic town, with a thriving creative community of musicians and artists, and full of socially conscious people. But the world here seems so quiet, bland and somehow lacking without the constant in-your-face life of India. The incredible, rich, exotic beauty that is side by side, every moment, with poverty and chaos and need.

I miss those constant reminders – the ones we so rarely have to confront in this world – of the fact that we are blessed, in ways far more than we have earned. That ours is a life of ease, of luxury and amenity, while so many in the world endure so much, suffer so much. The United States is an insular land and an arrogant one – it’s so easy here to accept a life of plenty and turn a cheek to the simple, unfair fact of life that we have done nothing to deserve our incredible lot in life over someone else who lacks basic food and water, who lives on less than a dollar a day.

The children that I have met and spent time with, grown to know and love over the past two years – they are as deserving, as bright and lovely and hopeful, as any child in the U.S. who has far too much, more than could ever be needed when millions don’t have even the basic necessities of life. Sometimes at home I wonder, when will it matter enough? My heart breaks daily for the people whom no one stops to see, whom few care about and fewer still even think about.

Meanwhile we go on our way, leading our wasteful lives, living without true meaning to the world outside our own comfortable enclaves. Days pass, years pass, and still we have not lived.

I look around me back home and I wonder how it is possible that people can drive their eight-mile-per-gallon SUVs and buy their 5,000 square-foot homes for a family of four. Consuming our 80% of the world’s resources as if we alone are entitled to them and they are never-ending. Don’t they know that much of the world is counting on us for their very survival? Our resources are not ours alone. How can we pretend that they don’t exist?

And so I wait, and hope for the day when we will realize that it’s up to us. Every one of us. No one is exempt, every one has their part to play. We owe it to the world. And ultimately, we owe it to ourselves.


About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."

Posted on April 12, 2007, in India, shelley seale and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I would like to put a footnote on this post, about an incredible article written on another blog called “Not All Poverty is Created Equal” – http://www.muthahood.com/muthahoodaintforsissies/2007/02/not_all_poverty.html

    This is a brilliant post which helps answer the question when people ask why someone does such work in India or Africa instead of at home. Like this author, I also volunteer and donate money heavily to social causes in the U.S. – dozens of them in fact. But as this article points out, poverty in a developing country is completely different than poverty in the U.S. “Poverty here in the United States does not equal poverty in third world countries. We, as Americans, are not poor because of genocide, drought, or being victims of war.” We are talking about being poor compared to living in extreme, abject poverty – less than $1 per day.

    As Rocky puts it in this post – “Being orphaned in the U.S. is not even close to being orphaned in Liberia, Guatemala, or India. It is a life or death situation in these other countries. That is a tragedy, not a misfortune.”

    “In the depths of my soul, I believe if you are poor in the United States, be grateful still.

    Because you don’t want to be poor anywhere else.”

  2. This is true Shelley that being an orphan in India or in any small country is not same as others. Problem is the people initiative and the proper planning. Everyone just keep on talking about things but when it comes to real work and acting to do something usefull people go blaming each other. For me it’s everyones job to make sure that at least one orphan around us can get the same benifit as a child gets with family so ther would not be any issues with it.

  3. hi. I truly can understand your sentiments in this post. I too have recently left India for NZ and miss India incredibly. I cry every morning day and night.
    Nice blog you have here. Keep up the good work.

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