As news coverage gets better, the world gets smaller. We have always been, but now must act as, one large family – no matter how big, no matter how rich, no matter how uneducated, no matter how poor.
Visiting India last summer, I saw what it was like to live in the slums. Children live in houses made out of leaves and mud. They bathe and wash clothes in rivers, cook by roadsides on small fires made from twigs and leaves, study for school under streetlights because they have no electricity at home—if, that is, they are lucky enough to go to school.
I began to think of these people as family. Have you ever thought of how the child in ripped rags felt, longingly watching children in school uniforms returning from school, while he is picking up trash? He has no clue how to read or write and sees his future as no better than the trash he is picking up. He doesn't have the opportunity to go to school because he must spend his day picking up trash to sell so his family will have food to eat: simple food - rice with yellow soup.
How can we live a life full of luxury when children just like us cannot even have a decent meal? We ask our parents to buy us cellphones, video games, the latest toys. The list goes on and on. We want and want. Do we ever consider what we really need, instead of what we want? When will we stop this cycle of greed?
We seem to be very self-centered and selfish, unable to think beyond ourselves. We don’t know how to truly share or give. This is very harsh, but I would say we all are worse off than beggars. Beggars want basic necessities, but our wants know no limits - we keep on wanting. When we focus on materialistic items, we get lost in acquiring them, forgetting our bigger family and our life as God would have us lead it.
At school, we are supposed to be getting a good education. Why? So we can acquire things? An education should teach us to think beyond ourselves: help us to see things through the eyes of another person. An education should not promote just buying more stuff. It should help make us family. Stuff cannot make you happy for long.
Have we become too lazy to make an effort to learn and to help the less fortunate? Have we become so self-absorbed that we are blind the needs of those who don't have anything?
I hope we can all became people who serve others. This world is a big family; it is an extension of you and me. So what if others look different? They are just people like you and me with the same basic needs. We have just been much more fortunate. Isn’t it only fair that we share with those less fortunate? Sharing and caring makes us good human beings. Let us all try to be one!
This holiday season, as you enjoy your own gifts, keep your world family in mind, and spread the holiday cheer.
God bless you!
--Pranav Chavan is a 6th grader at St. Anne's Belfield School in Charlottesville.
- ▼ December (5)