what is the what

almost finished with the book What is the What by Dave Eggers, the story of a Sudanese Lost Boy named Valentino Achak Deng.

i'm captivated by the story. it helps remind me of the reality of life on this planet; that is, life on this planet is not glamorous or remotely safe, secure, comfortable for many. while we worry about what to wear, or what brand of toothpaste will get our teeth the whitest, there are people wondering whether there will be a meal today or whether their fellow traveling companion will get eaten by a lion. seriously. we need perspective.

as i've read the story another thing stands out...the dates, years he describes. when i read stories like this of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing their homes; when i read about genocide; when i read about families separated and teenage boys taking on the role of "burial team" for a refugee camp; i think to myself, "wow, the world was different back then; back when people weren't civilized." but then i see the date and it grabs me: 1994. this happened in the early 90s, and continues today.

just like when i saw Hotel Rwanda for the first time and realized, this happened during my lifetime. where was i? where were we? as people were slaughtered in Africa, where were we? as people waste away in refugee camps, where are we?

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