Today I babysat an eighteen month-old Indian girl. She lives in a big brick house on a cul-de-sac. She and her infant brother will grow up in suburban America with an optometrist father, a beautiful working mother and a nanny. Her closet is full of pretty little girl dresses, she has an en suite bathroom. She is gorgeous and bright and funny. Her long lashes, piercing dark eyes and silky, well-trimmed hair are striking.
Six months ago I stood in front of 30 seven and eight year-old Indian children, teaching. Their classroom consisted of a dirt floor, cinder block walls, wooden benches and desks. They live in small houses, usually one room, with their large families. They and their siblings will grow up in a village outside of a city in India that most Americans have never heard of. I’m sure they don’t have closets, and if they did probably two outfits would hang inside. They are gorgeous and bright and funny. Their dirty feet and questioning eyes and inexplicably joyous smiles pierce you to your core.
The world is not equitable, we all know that. We also know that being unhappy about it won’t alter reality. But the contrast between these two worlds brings tears to my eyes, and I remember being thankful that those kids in India couldn’t see how I live. If they could, I’m sure they would be asking “Why won’t you share with us?” Here in America, we feel poor when we can’t satisfy our imagined needs for a five dollar latte or a winter coat to replace the perfectly good one we bought last year. How can we care more—do more—for orphans, widows and the poor?