Am I wealthy? My most immediate response would be not just “no” but “HECK NO.” But then, it’s all relative isn’t it? Sixteen ounces of water is worth a few pennies coming out of your tap; it’s worth $1.39 in a bottle at the local convenience store; it’s worth $3.50 inside the gate at the airport terminal: it’s worth every single dollar he’s ever saved to a man who is thirsting to death.
Since the current economic times have been tight, I think many of us find ourselves reconsidering our spending habits (I know I am) or feeling like maybe we don’t have enough or make enough money. Many have lost their jobs and are having to dip into savings, and many, me included, have lost quite a bit of their IRA or 401K. Tony and I say every year that next year will be the year we’ll build a new house on our property and get out of this old and way too small house with only one bathroom. But…we have a solid roof (well, mostly solid until a big wind blows off more shingles) over our head, Tony has a good job, and we always have food on the table. Our kids have everything they need and most of what they want.
Consider this: Yesterday morning Ruby was in a really chatty mood and felt like talking more about her life in Ethiopia. I just get this kind of info in small bits when she’s ready to talk, but she’s talking more frequently now and I’m piecing together what her and Elizabeth's life in Ethiopia was like. Yesterday she told me about how in Ethiopia she didn’t have any shoes when she was with Amari (her biological mommy). She said her and Elizabeth’s feet got burned and were bleeding because the ground was hot and things got poked in them that had to be picked out (maybe glass) because they were walking, walking, walking and had no shoes. She said Amari couldn’t buy shoes because she had to use the money for food. But sometimes there was not enough money for food. And she told me that she and Elizabeth and Abiya and Meeta (other family members) stayed to take care of the home while Amari went away and tried to get food. She also told me that Amari got her a white dress one time and it was pretty but she couldn’t wear it when it was a muddy day. If it was a muddy day she had to wear the “pink skirt clothes.” Those were her only clothes – no shoes. Then she acted out how Amari hand washed all the clothes and hung them on a line to dry.
I know times are hard for a lot of people in the U.S. right now, my family included. But will we ever be faced with looking into the face of our starving children or trying to comfort them because they have burned and bleeding feet because we can’t provide shoes? I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Amari to spend four years of her life watching her daughters grow into beautiful little girls and then come face-to-face with the reality of looking at their beautiful faces for the very last time, trying to memorize every feature, and walking away in hopes that they could have a better life – with plenty of food, clothing, and a home. The idea of what she must have been going through haunts me.
When I start to get worried about the economy, our finances, or if we’re ever going to build that new house, I look at the faces of my beautiful daughters and try to imagine Amari struggling to get food and shoes for her daughters; or I imagine what it would be like to be a woman in China, without a voice to speak out for herself, forced to put down her baby girl and walk away because a government dictates that she can have only one child and her husband dictates that she must have a boy.
Am I wealthy? I am not wealthy by most standards, but I am more than wealthy by my own.
1 year ago