I hopped on the stage and faced the crowd. A thousand students stared at me, laughing at my jokes, being pin-drop silent when they were supposed to be. Every one of them had read my book. I introduced them to the workers pictured on the 30-foot screen behind me who I had met on my Where am I Wearing trip. I talked about global poverty. I talked about the decade long journey that started with my first solo-trip to Australia, that led to writing, that led to my book, that led me here to this stage.
On the day I felt like I had made it, my parents lost everything. Every nut, bolt, truck, and piece of equipment that they built their business with over the past 36 years was auctioned off by the bank in an afternoon to the highest bidder (which wasn’t all that high).
I was traveling the country talking about global poverty, but 95% of my thoughts and worries were set on our floundering family business.
I’ve been struggling with my worldview. Before my “Where Am I Wearing” trip travel had connected me more to the global community than my own community in Indiana. I was more of a global citizen than a Hoosier. I thought more about global poverty, than poverty in Muncie.
After one of my WAIW presentations someone asked, “Why should we care when we have so many problems right here?” I was taken aback by the question, and even more so by my inability to answer it.
Why should we care? And even if we do care, what can we do about it?
We’re in the midst of a worldview crisis. Families face foreclosures, countries near bankruptcy, the poor are getting poorer and their numbers are growing. The closer to home the problems, the harder it is to see a world beyond them.
We struggle to see past the problems of our own family, city, county, state, and nation. We think, “We’ll get our problems taken care of first and then we’ll start thinking about others.” I’ve been there. This is easy to do, but we must rail against this type of thinking.
My New Year’s resolution is to be a better neighbor, a better resident of Muncie, Indiana, and a better global citizen. In 2010 I learned how to be a better local in Kenya. I learned how to learn from a crisis in Ireland. In 2011, I’m going to continue the journey, share these lessons and put them to use.
In the following weeks, I’ll be talking more about what our local and global responsibilities are and give concrete ways of how we can meet them.