Just close your eyes. Maybe the world’s hurt will go away.

So I never expected to be nearly harassed by a belligerent man in Starbucks (of all places), nor did I expect to be saved by two complete strangers who pretended to know me and had me come sit with them so that he would leave me alone.

A nice pair of people. A man and a woman. Stirring up a nice bout of conversation. They begin to speak about Haiti. The woman is from Haiti, born native, and the man is asking if she will return soon.

I am sitting stunned and paralyzed, I have stumbled into a conversation about a country that I am applying to go to in the next several months.  I tell the woman this and she doubles me over with a look.

“You, oh no, not you,” she said. “You are a pretty, bright-eyed white girl, you will never be seen again.”

Of course the further into this conversation I get, the more afraid I become. Naturally. This woman is telling me all the awful things that would happen to me straight off the plane. I am listening but I am softly crying in my head. I have labored over this application, mulled over this decision, and now I am basically dead before getting off the plane.

“You want to help people? Skip on down to a hospital down the street, I am sure they need your help.”

I know it is a sad and scary world. I know this is not a vacation spot. I hear it on a daily basis, why do you want to go there? Of all places.

My replies: Life is not meant to be easy. I was not made to be stuffed into a tiny little box with a tiny little world view. I want to see how 75% of the world’s population lives, because it is certainly not in the manner that we do.

But how do we change the world when everyone is barking at us that it cannot be done?

For one, we stop believing people right then and there. The world is big and large and every other adjective that could boost up the size of this planet. Other places,  other developing worlds, are exposed to danger and violence and war on a daily basis. We sit comfortably saying, don’t go over there, help in your own country. I say, well they cannot come over here, we never gave them that option. So. Watch. Me. Go. To. Them.

The most irritating, skin-scratching thing for me (besides hiccups, which I absolutely hate) is when people try to say that one cannot make a difference. If one cannot make a difference then why are we even here? Were we meant to come into this world thinking, ho hum I will never do anything in my life except “be.”

No, I think we were meant to fill our lives with verbs– helping, sharing, loving, finding, searching, understanding. And we cannot do it in a 1X1 space.

So although it hurt me to hear these things and to think for a second that I should not be doing all that I am doing, to think that it really might not make a difference, I am proving myself wrong. Maybe my service next year will still be Haiti, perhaps South Africa, or maybe domestic. But there will be serving.

What I do with my life will be a difference to someone else. I will make sure of this. So they say I cannot change the world. But I can change worlds. I can step into the lives of others and I can change them. And as each person shifts, the world will shift as well. Yes, yes, I believe I have found  a starting point.

And as promised by a few of you, and I will shortly make a page to accomodate this, I am leaving you with a book from my winter reading list. Largely inspiring my post today, Little Bee has opened my eyes to a lot of things: humanity, globalization, the mere fact that we are really not all that different. A story of two worlds merged into one, two women fumbling through a past that is not pleasing to the eye, two worlds becoming one story. Written by Chris Cleave, I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a change in perspective and that push to make the difference. Let me know what you think.

“You live in a world of machines and you dream of things with beating hearts. We dream of machines, beace we see where beating hearts have left us.”

Little Bee-

6 thoughts on “Just close your eyes. Maybe the world’s hurt will go away.

  1. What I love about your blog, and the reason why why I will read every one of your posts is that each is deeply and intimately personal. So firstly kudos for that.

    ‘If one cannot make a difference then why are we even here?

    Too right. And why it’s very rare that any one singular person makes as much of a difference to the world as, say, Nelson Mandela, that’s not to say we should not keep on trying. If you go out there and change a few, nay, say you change *one* life. If you change their path irrefutably and irreversibly, they will be different as a result of you. And they can go on to make more of a difference to the world as a result of your actions. You know pyramid schemes? There’s no reason that principle should not apply in a positive way as well. Bless you for not being a cynic.

    ‘I have labored over this application, mulled over this decision, and now I am basically dead before getting off the plane.’

    Don’t lose hope! What you have had is a massive reality check, and a lot in your life will depend on how you handle this first obstacle. But don’t just abandon your dream as a result, but be realistic. If you have applied for some dangerous places, take steps to make your stint there more safe. Ensure you go with people and hang out in groups. Learn where the safer areas are, etc.

  2. How do we change the world when everyone tells us we can? The real answer is none of us really know. But we do the best we can. We wake up everyday, and try to make something, somewhere a little better. My uncle works in human services (with disabled individuals). This is something he has done for many years, and somethign he really loves. My dad asked him one day how he doesn’t get frustrated in this line of work… and he told my father, “I don’t try to change the world. I try to make the world a better place for who I’m working with today.” My dad finished this story to me, by telling me about one of my uncle’s clients, who couldn’t learn how to tie his shoes. Eventually my uncle bought him velcro.

    If you ask me, that is how we do it? The world is a big place, and we can’t change all of it. But we can make it a better place for the people we encounter, whether they’re in our backyard or in Haiti. All the man my uncle worked with wanted was some independence, and my uncle realised you can’t always eliminate the problem, but you can usually help find a solution.

  3. Thank you Stephen for your honest praise. It means a lot to me, especially that you have left your reactions which are just as insightful.

    Lauren, I love that idea, of making the world a better place for others. That is great- thank you for that beautiful insight.


    Hannah Katy

  4. i love ur writing. it starts off so humorous and grabs my attention immediately until i’m so deep into it, im actually learning something. that tickles me. i’m so proud of u for wanting to make such a difference in a place like that and i wish u good luck. i also originally stopped by to thank u for the comment u left the other day on my blog in reference to the hater post. each person who posted meant so much to me. u’ve already made a difference ❤

  5. Hannah,

    I came across your blog somehow when I was just randomly surfing the net, and now I can’t stop reading your posts. You are a wonderful writer and I am getting emotional reading some of your thoughts!

    I think it is great that you want to go to Haiti and try to help others. Don’t give up on your dream just because there is danger involved. I feel like anything can happen to you when you least expect it, no matter where you are. People who live their lives fearing what might happen end up missing out on all of the experiences they could have had if they hadn’t let fear consume them.

    I love your idea that although you cannot change the world, you can “change worlds”.

    Keep up the great work! You definitely just gained a fan of your blog 🙂 Happy Holidays

  6. Thank you Lauren!

    I am still pursuing the service program in Haiti and actually have my first phone interview today so wish me luck.

    Thank you for the kind words. It means a great deal to me. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


    Hannah Katy

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