it’s all about the people

It strikes me as peculiar that the state and future of the world is endlessly debated and mulled over by the most intelligent of minds when at the end of the day, it’s most clearly all about the people. The moment I see an honest smile, a warm hug, and the intense irreplaceable feeling of someone’s hand on your shoulder, all the problems of the world quickly evaporate leaving me completely naked and unguarded.

Friends sometimes tell me I am one of the most guarded people they know. I suppose it’s understandable because of my upbringing; I’ve dealt with a plethora of situations that have in turn made that terrible wall that guards my heart taller and taller. At the end of the day, though, I know I will have to learn to break it down to make a difference. I know I have to let people in, because keeping everyone at arms length means they cannot get close enough to my heart to truly have a place it in, nor I in theirs’.

During my meager time in Cambodia, however, I find my wall crumbling. And quickly at that. I somehow can’t help but notice how absolutely honest and open my colleagues and countrymen and women are. It’s disarming how it turns your heart into a melted mess of purity…virtue…integrity. To imagine what hardships this country has been through; my wall could not compare to the wall I would expect to find in the hearts of its people. What’s worse, my colleagues are the ones whose lives have been severely deterred by one physical impairment or another. And yet, here I am, with my high and mighty wall made up of childhood grapples with insignificant problems. It’s foolish and pretentious and embarrassing.

What is it about America that makes us so selfish? In fact, what is it about Money that makes us so selfish? When did the sole purpose in life change from happiness to wealth? When did we stop caring about people so we’d have enough time to care only about ourselves?

Make no mistake, I take no credit in being this virtuous non-existent Gandhi-esque person I search for. Yet, it bothers me that ever since Gandhi, who, peace be upon him, died in 1948, there have been so few people who could truly measure up.

I suppose I would put Muhammad Yunus in a class below, because at the end of the day, Dr. Yunus still makes a profit. The money still drives his passion which in turn helps the needy. (I absolutely revere Dr. Yunus nonetheless because what he has done to help the poor is ground breaking.)

The kind of people who care about other people for the sake of benefiting their lives solely seem to be unaffected by the presence and absence of money. They walk on water unattached to material things. They are unmoved by the silly little things that seem to guide the rest of our lives.

How did they become that way? What distinguishes their persona and lifestyle and childhood and morals? How do the rest of us find solace in our lives if we cannot ever reach such heights? Is it all in the search? Is that where the answer lies…in the pursuit for that which is unattainable? Is absolute happiness always a stone’s throw away? Is that what keeps us honest?

If we woke up one day and said, “I’ve found all that I’m looking for,” whether it be money, happiness, love, or life, we would no longer persue those exact things. We would cease to make the effort.

Then, in the same way that one can never have enough money, can one never have enough happiness? Is there a point at which we should put an end to our chase and surrender to being content?

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