“Our original guiding stars are struggle and hope. But there is no such thing as a lone struggle, no such thing as a lone hope. In every human being are combined the most distant epochs, passivity, mistakes, sufferings, the pressing urgencies of our own time, the pace of history.” – Pablo Neruda in his Nobel Lecture
It’s been 6 years, maybe 7, since I’ve been to the Philippines. The last time I arrived in Davao City, we used a staircase to exit the aircraft, suffocating in the dust and heat as we walked ourselves to the terminal, which was really just a simple box-like building. I would never have guessed that this time, I would walk into a renovated airport through the jet bridge that I’m used to and into maze-like hallways pristine in white that I associate with larger airports to ease our transition to a new world.
Have you ever had one of those amazing days that you still reminisce about, even though you can’t figure out what exactly was so great about the day? I just had a day like that in February on my most recent trip to Lima. It turned out to be a day that encompassed a lot of what I love about living in Peru.
Coming to Peru in 2008 was one of the biggest “firsts” of my life. It was the first time I had moved to a developing country on my own and the entire experience has been string of firsts, even to this day. I guess that’s just the nature of living in a new, foreign, and unpredictable country!
Living in Peru, especially in Huancayo, has always conjured up images of a simple life for me. The year I first moved to Huancayo, simplicity was what I had come to value and what I continue to define myself by. It is my effort to not be carried away by materialism and the associated negativity.
Why am I getting ready to move back home? The low cost of living in Peru (at least here in the Central Andes) would be a good reason for me to stay. Actually, the cheaper lifestyle here probably contributes to the more relaxed environment and attitude: another reason to stick around.
“Gifts have the function of bonding communities together.” — Charles Eisenstein
I’ve been part of the gift economy even before coming to Peru because of my natural urge to give others at least equal or more to express gratitude. To Eisenstein, this gift giving creates bonds (obligations, even) as opposed to the money economy that promotes isolation. Community disappears in a money economy because financial transactions offer you the luxury of not needing anyone anymore.
The Chinese have been living in Peru since they arrived on ships that traveled across the Pacific in the 1850s. They were the first Asians to make it to South America and came as coolies who worked in guano mines and sugar plantations.
No one knew that he was dead. He sat upright against the wall for support, his head hanging forward in a resting position. He had been robbed of everything after exiting a nightclub in Huancayo and they left him there, probably imagining that he’d wake up from his drunken stupor. He didn’t. Instead, he died of hypothermia from a cold Andes night.
No one helped because it looked like he was just sleeping and it’s not uncommon to find a sleeping, drunk man on a street of Huancayo. We have become desensitized to the sight.
The “bystander effect” states that we are less likely to help someone in trouble if we’re part of a larger crowd. “I’m sure that the other guy will help,” we tend to think. Then, no one does. There are victims.
What have you become desensitized to? Please inspire us by sharing about someone you recently helped who may have been ignored by society.