Events echo far and wide

I’ve been in the US for the last month, so it’s been quite a while since there were any new posts on the blog.   A new year, a renewed commitment to write more often.  Maybe I’ll even talk a few others into posting, too, to get more frequent and wider-ranging content.

It’s not exactly a news flash to say that the world seems smaller and more connected now than it did 10 years ago when I arrived in Central America.  You can’t turn on the news without hearing how every country in the world is affected by the economic crisis, for instance, and the effects keep ricocheting from one sector to another, from country to country, region to region.  There’s so much bad news echoing about that it’s tempting to just quit listening.

A better response is to consciously balance the bad news with good.  So here’s a reminder that the world is also connected in more positive ways:

Rocio Gonzalez, the coordinator for the San Rafael site, visits the village most days to check on how things are going.  Ten days ago she was at the school, where two men were working to get the school ready for the start of the new year.  Don Nicholas, a bricklayer, has been working there all through the break, adding a new classroom and building a new perimeter wall.  Normally he listens to religious music while he works, but that day he had on the news.

When Rocio walked over to say hello, Don Fermin, the vice mayor of the town who was helping Don Nicholas, motioned to the radio and said, “It’s after noon; Obama is President now.  The first black man … It’s historic, isn’t it?”

At that same moment I was about 3,000 miles away at my best friend’s house, watching the inauguration on television with his kids, whom he had pulled out of school for the day so they could witness the event.  Now, whatever one’s politics, it’s hard to imagine anyone failing to be moved by images on the television screen that day.  The sea of people gathered on the mall, traveling from far away and standing in the cold just to be present, the close ups of teary-eyed African Americans witnessing the realization of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream, which he had famously declared on that same mall some 45 years before.

Don Fermin was right, it is historic.  The world has changed a lot in those 45 years.   While the news of the day bring us anxiety, we shouldn’t fail to recall that nothing is permanent, some unlikely dreams eventually are realized, and that wherever we are in the world, we can be united in hope and a sense of history.

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