Choice. Privilege. Opportunity. Responsibility.
(Although this isn't a blog specifically about our work in Malawi, our work in Malawi has shaped my thoughts and heart leading to my writing. ~Julie)
For the first time in eighteen and a half years I will have spring flowers that won’t be tromped on. And for the first time in eighteen and a half years I have no pets to tromp on them. The end of a wonderful era for me and my family. I love animals.
~ The story
Leo led a good, long life. For the last couple of years he was blind and mostly deaf but healthy. ... Until Monday. For a number of months we wondered whether he had tumours or maybe fluid in his lungs because he was often making light wheezing sounds. But on Monday he began to desperately struggle to breathe. It was awful to watch and listen to. It was like he was trying to cough something up over and over again. We rushed him to the emergency vet and learned that in fact his trachea had almost completely collapsed and he was struggling for air. We made the tough, but easy choice, to put him down at 2am in the morning.
I’m thankful for the country I was born in. That we were able to deal with Leo’s struggle for life in the middle of the night, so humanely and effortlessly. Even during this pandemic.
~ The struggle
But, compared with how we’d have been forced to deal with this emergency if we were living in a remote village of Malawi ... that would have been horrible. My mind cannot help but consider this.
I struggle with the fact that nobody gets a choice about where they're born on this planet, that I was born into a place that comes with privilege for me ... and my dog. And that billions are born into lives that offer no privilege or opportunity, that people are forced to live a life of extreme poverty. No one gets a choice. Not me. Not them.
~ The point
As thankful as I am, I struggle with the fact that my dog had a better life ... and end ... than many of my friends in Malawi. The life and health care of my dog were far above what theirs will likely ever be. These people live in a country with no infrastructure and a health care system that is overburdened and under-resourced. People walk hours to get to clinics and hospitals, often carrying their sick loved one on their backs. (We drove the man in this picture to the hospital when we found him being carried on his nephew’s back. It would have been hours to carry him to the hospital.) I believe strongly that this isn’t fair or right. No one would choose this. Would you?
Even more so now, do I realize the responsibility that comes with my unchosen, unearned, privileged place of citizenship on this planet. It comes with the responsibility to help those who are born, by no choice of their own, without privilege and opportunity. I am responsible. Full stop.
~ The end
Leo, I’ll miss you my friend. I’m glad you didn’t suffer long. You and Rufus are missed. I’m sure Rufi greeted you with a “Hey!! Where’ve you been?! I’ve missed you. I'm so glad to see you!” Off you go now, to chase each other in the fields ... together again 😉