Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Brief Departure

Some of you may have noticed (probably not), but I was gone from late November to late March. Well, that time had come, and I was deployed to Liberia.  You know, for work. During my tenure in Africa, I had hardly any internet, and definitely no laptop with me. Or instruments. I had my phone, but zero service, but it was my saving grace because of the music on it. But all of this is besides the point.

Spending a little bit of time in Liberia put some things in perspective. Here in the United States, we like to whine and moan about all kinds of minuscule to grand-scaled problems. Of course, some problems are worth being vocal over, and I think we can all agree with that. I won't get into those problems. What I am talking about, is the trivial first-world problems that a lot of our youth seem to be completely obsessed over, and feel the need to whine and bitch about them whenever they don't get their way.

Spend a few months in a country that is stricken with poverty and illness. Sure, you have read about it on the internet, or seen it on television, but it simply does not capture the true situation to its core, unless you see it firsthand for yourself. Over 80% of the country's population is unemployed, and they will do anything they absolutely can to put food in their family's bellies. It costs a mere $70 USD a year to put a child through school, and most families can barely afford that. A weekly wage of about six US dollars is considered good money. The food they gather is often from very questionable resources, as they have zero government regulation of safe and unsafe foods. Children can hardly get education, or clothes, or toys. They are often unable to get the proper medication to treat malaria and other diseases, which is pretty rampant.

The father figure of the average family is often the money maker. They will work hard and hustle their ass off to get those few bucks. And they will do it in deplorable conditions, in comparison to what we have here. And they won't complain about any of it. They have every right to be unhappy with their situations, but they aren't, because they have the support of their families and friends. Without the help of social media.

I can't speak much on the terms of local talents, because I didn't really see anyone playing music there, but I do know they are out there.

Honestly, I'm not really sure what else to write about on this topic. I'm not trying to make myself out to be a saint or a hero, because I'm far from it. My involvement with the whole mission there was honestly extremely minute, so honestly that gave me a lot of time to reflect and observe. I suppose that my point is that for those of us who have the means to express ourselves; to communicate with our loved ones; to go out and earn wages for our hard work and our skills; to eat a steady diet regularly; to transport ourselves to our places of business; to utilize the sources at our disposal to listen to our favorite artists ... just take a second and realize that you CAN do these things.

Be thankful for it. Enjoy it. Stop taking it for granted.

Next time you get pissed off at your iPhone because it doesn't want to function exactly how you want it to, or you can't get the exact tone you want out of your $3,000 guitar rig, or when your car's air conditioning isn't blowing 5 degrees cooler than you want it to... take a step back and just be glad you have the options in front of you. That's all I'm saying.

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