This year, I celebrated Independence Day at a friend’s barbeque. As I sat with my feet dangling in the pool, a bottle of Dos Equis in one hand and a watermelon slice in the other, my mind should have been on light matters, like do I need to reapply sunscreen? or who’s up next for beer pong?
Instead, I was mentally rehashing a CNN article I’d read the day before; a Syrian refugee’s personal account of the ongoing mass murder, torture and corruption in his home country. Similar world issues began rolling around in my head, and soon I was deep in thought about extreme violence and famine in Somalia, slavery in Mauritania, female infanticide in India.
I don’t (always) go around bumming people out at pool parties. But the contrast was too glaring not to notice; as we were celebrating our country’s freedom (and all its implications) with cookouts and fireworks, billions of people around the world woke up facing horrors we cannot even imagine. As I contemplated how fortunate I was to live not only in a free country, but in a safe apartment where I have running water, electricity and a refrigerator full of food – basics that so many people live without – a tidal wave of gratitude washed over me. Continue reading