on our four day hike to machu picchu on the salcantay trail one of my favorite moments was playing the card game ‘b.s.’ with our trek guide and group. it’s easy to play in large groups and fun because of the deception it involves. the rules are; you deal until the deck is empty. the person with the 2 of clubs starts by placing the card face up in the middle pot. the game then plays clockwise in ascending numerical order. for example, the next person to play after the 2 has to put down a 3. the person after that a 4, and so on. if it is your turn to go and your number is 4 for example, you place your 4 down if you have it. if you don’t have the needed card you place another card face down and say confidently the number of 4’s you’re placing in the middle. if someone doesn’t believe you have the card(s) you claim they call out “b.s.!” you then have to show your card(s). if you’re telling the truth the other person takes the middle pot. if you’re lying, you take the pot. the winner is the person who gets rid of all their cards first.
we traveled to cusco christmas day and spent new years in machu picchu. a late happy new year to all by the way! the holiday season was enjoyable here. in peru, on christmas eve, everybody gathers with their family and then waits. and you wait. and wait. then at midnight, the celebration begins. every household, i mean every household, let’s off fireworks and bottle rockets. it’s an awesome sight. then there’s a large feast following usually of turkey, sides, wine, a pound-cake-like-desert called panéton and hot chocolate.
being away from home on holidays makes you appreciate home of course. i wasn’t sad to be away, more so happy for the traditions my family has kept. a huge thanks to temple university’s gymnastics team. they donated around 30 holiday gifts to underprivileged children, even amongst the men’s team recently being cut alongside six other sports. and that saddened me. it was a near home reminder that injustice exists.
it might seem silly to compare sports teams being cut to larger injustices in the world. those like in south sudan, kenya, uganda, thailand, russia, brazil, ukraine, egypt, north korea, and, recently, even my home columbia, maryland- that was a difficult saturday to be away.
however i think it’s important to make those connections. to say, act and live in a way that states an injustice anywhere, on any scale, does indeed threaten justice everywhere. to say both community and global problems are connected, one in the same, because they deal with people; people’s lives, their well being, their health, their happiness.
it’s no secret injustice and corruption exist. it’s our responsibility to call it out, put it in the light and conquer it. here in peru, i’ve been exposed to some of the most depressing living situations and circumstances i’ve ever seen in my life. sometimes day after day after day. circumstances and systems that seem unconquerable. and yet, i’ve never been more excited for humanity, for us, for you, for this generation. our best days are ahead of us. i cannot express to you how much i believe that in writing, so take my word for it. i believe it.
walking up machu picchu i thought of course about the incas. inca society was clearly hierarchical and highly structured, but not repressive. food and resources were stored and distributed so all were fed and clothed. it was a society where the majority accepted their role without exploiting others. how lovely. and how foreign to us!
in recent conversations i’ve expressed how easy it is for news to report “the bad.” articles, news stations and headlines, they all read “this # killed, this # dead, this # hurt, this # injured, this # hospitalized” and etc. and etc. like the ones reporting the tragedy at columbia mall that took the lives of Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson- continued prayers for their loved ones. it’s difficult to report “this # of people were inspired by today’s events” or “this # of people witnessed what happened today and have decided to become more educated and more involved in this problem. to join the cause.” and in every difficult situation i come across that’s exactly what i find. it’s just not as easy to report, talk about, communicate, but it exists. believe me you, Light exists in the darkness. i’m seeing It. i’m saying even amongst teams i love being dropped, amongst potential civil wars, terrorist acts in town centers, gays being threatened with life in prison if they come out, amongst poverty in way too many communities- good things are happening. read bill & melinda gates’ recent article in the wall street journal (three myths on the world’s poor). lovely things are happening. the power of the human spirit is amazing. and resilient. and beautiful. and beautiful. and. beautiful.
if we don’t look though it’s tough to recognize. it’s easier to read headlines than peoples lives. that’s not a criticism, it’s an observation. i can more easily scroll down a cnn website than i can enter a home and have a conversation, especially here; my spanish’s not that good.
but that is the point. that’s my point. we get consumed and we start believing cards being laid down by those around us. people that say “i have two ‘there’s just not enough resources for everyone’” or “here’s three ‘it’s just too complicated of a problem with too many different and valid viewpoints’” or “here’s four of ‘let’s not work on that problem yet and wait til tomorrow. it’s not an issue for us now’” or “here’s a ‘that’s just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about it.’” b.s.! b.s. b.s. things are unjust. pessimism is understandable. marginalization is out there and in full. but we can call these things out. and solutions do exist. it takes creativity of course, and effort, innovation and perseverance. but it’s worth it. and when a reason is given for these things, an explanation, that has to do with more darkness entering the world than good, question it. call it out. and have them show you their cards.