Sunday, May 29, 2016

My Son Taught Me About Privilege Yesterday

This was my boy yesterday morning when he ran his first 5K.  He is 8 years old and probably only weighs 40 pounds.  That's 40 pounds of muscle with a few bones stuck in.  God made him an athlete, and he made him fast.

Josiah won second place in his age category, with a time of almost exactly 23 minutes.  

Josiah's real love is soccer, but he has been training in track this school term.  However, he had never run such a long distance before, so we weren't really sure what to expect.  Just have fun, we told him.  Let's see what you can do.  

I was so proud of him, and even got a little teary when he roared across the finish line.  But because of the different start times, I didn't really realize how well he had done until we went online to see the stats last night.  

There were 84 participants.  Only two were younger than Josiah.  He placed sixth out of 84 people.

Then I started thinking about all these top runners.  James?  Also adopted from Tanzania.  Alidi, Moses, and Rashid?  All boys from a slum across the road from HOPAC.  A group of men from the HOPAC community have been deeply investing in these three boys (and others) for years now, training them in both sports and the gospel.

I thought about James and Josiah and what their lives would be like right now if they had not been plucked out of that orphanage (both boys from the same one!).  I thought about Alidi, Moses, and Rashid, and how the annual 5K has become such a bright spot in a life of poverty.   

And then I thought about the millions of others like them, all across Tanzania and the world, who will never get this chance.  Even Alidi, whose favorite day of the year is probably the 5K, has to content himself with running at a small community race, instead of an all-state event in front of college recruiters.  

How many other young boys and girls are out there, DNA brimming with Olympic athleticism, or Ivy-League intelligence, or musical genius?  Yet they'll never have a real soccer ball, or a classroom with less than 100 students in it, or a piano to practice.  

And it hit me that one of the (many) privileges of being wealthy is the ability to see my children find their potential.  And have a shot at reaching it.  

It makes me wonder how many millions of those in poverty are ignored, oppressed, or spat upon, when all they really need is a chance.  Or how often I have taken advantage of my wealth and opportunity and forgotten what a what a huge privilege my life really is.

I've resolved not to forget.  Or waste it.   

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