San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala
The contrast here is making me very sad–I am so very privileged to have the time, leisure, and money to travel and sample the world, and the people that are around me here in Guatemala are all struggling. In this moment I feel I want, no I need, to be doing something greater with my life than I am now, and I just feel so small. The language school I am attending is a cooperative–that means guaranteed better wages to the instructors, and the school gives back to the community in the form of helping local poor families, and also with a commitment to built houses for 7 of the poorest families in town. Yesterday we walked with our instructors to give out Christmas baskets to the needy–filled with a bunch of staples and a few just goodies. I guess it’s good to travel the world and see different ways of living and see different points of view, but yesterday I just find it so damned heartbreaking.
Maybe I am a bit sad and lonely, and so these things weigh on me more heavily these holiday days rather than at other times. I’ve read that Guatemala is one of the poorest of the Central America countries…imagine if the people are so poor they live without electricity, running water or a place to go to the bathroom, imagine the plight of the poor animals.
Yesterday I saw two dogs bound together. Yes, I know something of this, yet in the USA we generally have enough wealth to promote spay/neuter programs and so in all my years of doing animal welfare work, this is something I have never seen. The dogs were right in front of my house, and there was a general commotion as over the next at least half hour the dogs were bound together, the male being dragged around by the larger female, and there were terrible noises of agony as the male tried to flee and was beat up by other males wanting their turn. The female, helplessly bound my mother nature and by instinct, in the end is the one that will suffer and risk her life due to the way of nature.
I found it so overwhelmingly sad I thought I would go mad every time they cried out. I kept bursting into tears. I could do nothing to turn it off or to make it better for them, just as I am so helpless to really and truly help any of these beautiful and wondrous people, except for being the damned tourist that I am, attending a Spanish school with a conscience, and perhaps buying a few souvenirs.
I guess Mother Theresa really was a saint because all I want to do is to turn it all off–or run away. I am feeling everything so deeply I have been in tears for three days now. I just want to get lost in alcohol or sex or television or food or anything to make me feel better. The worst part is I feel like I “should” be happy–I have the “good” life.
How do we make a difference in this world without losing our minds?