SixEight Life


{archives} Suburban Bubble

Author’s note: In honor of ‘Throwback Thursday’ I’m posting one of the first blog posts I wrote from more than six years ago. When I read it now, it is clear that it was the beginning of my journey in activism.

Photo credit: brocken inaglory (creative commons)

Photo credit: brocken inaglory (creative commons)

Have you ever wondered why some are born into financial security and others aren’t? While some are born in a suburban bubble of ignorant bliss of the world, and others are born in that cruel, unforgiving, painful world? Why some are born healthy, and others have health problems? Why some have two parents who love them, and others don’t even have one? Why some get the best of everything, and others get nothing at all?

It’s so easy to say that ‘that’s life, it’s just how it goes’. Leave it to the mystery of God allowing sin in the world, and the tainted humanity of each of us. And I believe that’s true. Sin is why there is inequality and pain.

But recently I’ve been focusing on empathy, and truly trying to understand others, and to ‘put myself in their shoes.’ And I’ve been asking why. Why do I live in a beautiful, large home, with plenty of space, security and comfort? Why do I have two awesome parents who love me, and love each other? Yes, I’m blessed, that’s why. I’m unbelievably, hugely blessed beyond belief.

But, as I’ve discovered, it’s easy in suburban America to be completely ignorant of the outside. It’s easy to blame the homeless man for being without a job, or to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the children in our schools who have no food to eat. It’s easy to ignore the pain on people’s faces, and to accept their ‘I’m fine’ as fact. So many people I know who live with me inside the suburban bubble don’t ever think about the pain that comes along with the war in Iraq. It’s easy to say that all Iraqi citizens are evil and hate us. So many of us in the bubble don’t have a clue what of what goes on in our inner cities, much less a horrific, painful place like Darfur. We worry about if our clothes are stylish, or if our cars have enough horsepower, or if we have enough money to do all the things we want to do, or to buy all the things we want to buy. And believe me, I’m a member of the bubble, so I have found myself focusing on these things too much. It’s easy to write a check at the end of the year and say that we ‘contributed to helping others.’ It’s easy, as Christians, to say that ‘I give my 10% so the rest of the money is mine to spend.’ It’s easy to watch video and pictures of suffering children on the news, and say ‘Someone should do something about that.’ Then we get to turn off our TVs and go about chasing the dollar.

I want to be more empathic towards others. I watched a movie last night that was about troubled kids in an inner city. At one point, I really tried to THINK about what it must be like to be those teenagers. I wonder what it’s like to wonder where your next meal is coming from, or to worry that you’ll get killed in the crossfire of a drive by shooting. I wonder what it would be like to know that your mother is working as a prostitute so she can put food at the table, and the stigma that comes with the knowledge of something like that. How easy is it for us in the bubble to condemn and judge, but what extreme measures would you take to make sure your children have food when nothing seems to be working?

Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to grow up in an extremely poor area, or an area that is wracked with war. When I was in the Mid. East in December, we heard a bomb go off in the distance. For a moment, I was afraid. What would it be like to hear those bombs every night, and to know that people you love are out there, possibly in the middle of it? Or, what would it be like to live in the slums of a refugee camp, feeling like the whole world hates you because you are part of a certain ethnic group? What would it be like to know that you have no defense from contracting aids from any man who can come to your village to rape you? Many of us in the bubble think those with aids have done something to get the disease. What about those who are born into desperate poverty, and as hard as they try, they can’t get out of it? It’s easy to blame when you’re in the bubble.

I think that we in the suburban bubble typically view the world through the bubble, in a hazy, inaccurate way. It’s all one sided, and we don’t take the time to think about the other sides to the story. And we don’t have to leave the bubble, it’s warm and secure. I know people who really don’t have any desire to leave the bubble. Let me tell you, I’ve left the bubble, and it’s a crazy world out there. It’s not comfortable to leave the bubble, but it’s beneficial. But hey, I came back to the bubble, but I don’t really want to stay here for much longer.

I’m not saying we should all abandon our material possessions and live like nomads. Well, Christ did it, but I’m not saying we should all do that. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have nice things or live comfortably.I have nice things, I live comfortably. I’m just saying that you should think about the world outside the bubble. Maybe take a trip, go experience it. Go to those who aren’t in your bubble. Love them, help them, listen to their stories. Start looking at those outside the bubble as people equal to you, not as second class citizens. Most of them don’t want your pity, but they don’t want your judgement either. You don’t have to travel far to leave the bubble, just a little drive, or a little plane ride.

Those are some thoughts I’ve been having about the world. I welcome discussion or challenge. I don’t think you’re a bad person, nor do I judge you if you disagree with me, or if you think I’m wrong. I’ve just been thinking about this and thought I’d write it down. Have a good day.

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