Category Archives: Making the World a Better Place

Making the Dean’s List

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Med school is a beast. Last semester, Ben spent ten to twelve hours daily on medical school activities: lecture, studying, practice problems, tests. He worked hard, and it paid off. He finished the semester with a 93% average, honoring all his classes.

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American University of the Caribbean recognizes its honor students each semester with a ceremony and dinner reception. It was awesome to watch my smart, handsome man walk across the stage and receive his Dean’s List certificate!

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A few other awards and honors were recognized during the ceremony. One of these is the community engagement award. Ben G. (not my Ben) and Kyle M. received this award for their work with the SXM Little League Player Development Program, the tutoring and baseball program I volunteer with. One of the faculty members read a speech written by each of them. Hopefully, a few other AUC students had their interest piqued at the ceremony and will start volunteering with us, now that Kyle and his wife, Andrea, are leaving the island.

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After the ceremony and my enthusiastic admiration of Ben’s certificate, we headed to the student lounge for some free food and conversation. I was impressed to see prestigious faculty helping to serve the food. That shows what kind of community we enjoy here at American University of the Caribbean.

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Hopefully, we’ll be here again at this time next semester! Please keep Ben in your prayers as he works hard toward his goal of becoming a medical missionary and hospital founder in East Africa.

I Look to a Day When….

Few people have had as much impact on the racial element of American culture as Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember the first time I listened to his speech… not heard, but really listened. It sent shivers up and down my spine. Joy rose in my heart as I recognized the steps we’ve taken as a nation and longing tugged at my heart as I realized what a long way we still have to go.

If I’ve learned anything about race and culture, it is that valuing differences in culture and skin color is key to ethnic harmony. We sometimes try to pretend that there’s no differences among us. But that is not a solution, and it does nothing to facilitate relationships and understanding.

We’re different. Everybody, every culture, every color.

It’s beautiful.

Let’s start appreciating.

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Culture is the most beautiful and fascinating thing I have encountered in my life. It’s amazing to see the diversity among humankind. So many different faces, so many different foods, so many different ways to do life.

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I love what the Bible says about ethnic diversity. Historically, we know that many people have shamefully used the scriptures as an excuse for racism. Those people obviously never read the book. My favorite passage of the Bible is the the 21st and 22nd chapter of Revelation. In it, the author describes what the world will be like after the end of the world as we know it and the beginning of the new order. The Bible teaches that eventually, God will remake the earth and remove all the bad from it. Then, he will come and live on earth with us in a beautiful city. Here and elsewhere in the Bible, “nations” is a translation of the Greek word “ethne,” meaning people groups of ethnic groups.

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“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the Lamb [the Lamb is a name for Jesus]… and and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’…They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:9-17

“And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb . By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into in and its gates will never be shut by day– and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:22-27

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This is good news for all of us. First it tells us that God is a big fan of our diversity. Why would he have created it otherwise? Secondly, it tells us that our diversity will remain in Heaven and beyond. Third, it comforts us with the promise that all of God’s children who ever been abandoned, hurt, abused, or shunned based on race will be accepted, healed, cared for, and loved by God. What a promise; what a future to look forward to.

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“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I may not live to see a day when this is true for our world. But I hold to the promise that I will see that day in Heaven.

 

 

Coconut Retrievers

This island is absolutely covered with free-running cats and dogs! They call island mutts Creoles on the French side of the island and coconut retrievers on the Dutch side. Some are not so nice– like the scroungy mutt who nips at the heels of runners– and some are generally loved and just hang around. There’s a yellow dog who lives on the sidewalk of the small shopping district of Maho. He is just a regular fixture, and nobody minds him.

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Many of the students at American University of the Caribbean have adopted a stray or shelter animal. Our neighbor had a cat for a while– she was the sweetest. She used to sit on the window sill and wait for me to walk by and scratch her head through the cracked window. My friend Stacey has two cats from a shelter here. Several students foster animals. I know of at least one who takes puppies home every trip back to the States and finds families for them. Other expats and locals take care of the strays, too. The little league team I help out with adopted a dog who wandered on the field one day. She lives with their coaches, who have two other rescues.

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I had been begging Ben for a puppy all last semester, but as far as I could tell, he wasn’t too interested in that idea. I had pretty much given up on the idea by the time Christmas break rolled around.

Two days before Christmas, while my family was visiting us, Ben slipped off to “run some errands” and didn’t get back until dinner time. He came back with something in a bag. I opened it, and there was a sweet little puppy face looking back at me! We named her Kito, which means “precious gem” in Swahili.

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Kito has been busy keeping us up at night, peeing on the floor, and eating rocks. We’re a little more tired and a little less tidy than usual, but she’s more than worth it. There’s something nice about having something warm and fuzzy to cuddle with. As Lucy Van Pelt would say, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” I’m glad that God made puppies; they certainly are nice to have around.

Win A Caribbean Picture Book!

Good morning, friends! This is my 50th post on 3rd Culture Wife, and to celebrate, I am giving away a little piece of my host culture. Read on to find out how to win.

Caribbean Dream is a beautifully illustrated picture book that portrays the Caribbean life vividly before your eyes. I first came across the book while searching for books for the island kids I tutor– I wanted to contribute to their library with books that focus on African-Caribbean characters. This is one that caught my attention.

I think it is important to give children books with brown children as the main characters. Most of the books I grew up with had white main characters. I never thought much of this as a kid. Since I’m white, I found the characters relatable. However, as I now live in a African-Caribbean community, I have started to see things through the eyes of brown children. Why are there so few picture books featuring black kids? I don’t know, but I’m always glad when I find good books that do. I think books focusing on people of color and books in diverse cultural settings are essential to any child’s library. For the kids on the island, Caribbean Dream is a great choice because it is something they can relate to. For kids outside the Caribbean, it’s a great choice because it exposes them to cultures different than their own.

To win this book, share a link to this post on your Facebook, WordPress, or other social media site. Then comment below to let me know that you shared it. The fifth person to comment wins! Please note: all comments will be invisible until the contest is over, so you won’t see your or anyone else’s comments until then. Make sure to follow the post so that you can know if you win, so I can get your mailing address to send it.

The contest will end on Saturday, December 19, 2015, so get posting!

 

 

Note: The only information I will need from you is a shipping address for the book. I will not keep your information or share it with anyone else.

Second Sunday of Advent: Forgiveness

Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Last week, I wrote the history, tradition, and significance of Advent season.  Today, I will be talking about what we did for the second week of Advent. If you like, you can gather your family and join in the timeless tradition of Advent devotions.

Tonight, we lit the second advent candle, the Forgiveness Candle. This candle reminds us that Jesus came to us in order to bring forgiveness of our wrongdoings.

The Bible tells us that the reason that Jesus came to us was to glorify God (John 17:1). The primary way He did this was by reconciling the world to God. From the very first, people alienated themselves from God by disobeying God. God commands that we do all things good and right, as is outlined in the Bible and written in our consciences. But each one of us has violated that command. Because even the smallest wrongdoing completely dirties us before God, we are unable to enter his presence as we are. God is so completely holy that He does not tolerate the filth of unholiness. Because He is just, He requires punishment for wrongdoing– physical death and eternal separation from His presence after death.  But because God loves us and desires to show His mercy to us, He decided to make a way for our relationship with Him to be repaired. He sent His Son, Jesus, to the world to take the punishment for our wrongdoing. Jesus was the only one who could take on every wrong ever committed and bear our punishment in our place, because He was the only man who ever lived a perfect life with no mistakes. When He died, God turned His back on him and let Him bear the pain of physical death and separation from His presence for a short time. But because Jesus is God, the power of evil and death had no hold over him. After a short time in the grave, Jesus rose again, this time with a body that would never be destroyed! If we repent of our wrongdoing and accept Jesus’ sacrifice, we too can live forever with God. Our wrongdoings– every single one of them– have already been paid for by Jesus. We can be forgiven.

Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is the celebration of the first spark of hope for forgiveness entering the world.

For today’s Advent devotional reading, you can read the following verses:

Psalm 130: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.

Luke 1:68-79: “….for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of God…”

Because of the forgiveness of God, we no longer need to live with the burdens of guilt, of shame, or of fear. This freedom is the beautiful blessing of Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree for $0

Each year around the end of November, we are faced with the reality that CHRISTMAS IS COMING and we totally didn’t budget for it the way we should have.

For my family this year, this is due in great part to a giant international move that we were not planning on at the beginning of the year.

But as Christmas approached, we did not panic, and neither should you! Christmas does not have to be ridiculously expensive. I plan to post a few different money-saving ideas that living on student loans and freelance illustrating has driven me to dream up.

One great thing about being an international grad school family is that it makes you resourceful and inventive. And it’s actually a lot of fun!

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Today’s Christmas budget-saver is a 100% totally free Christmas tree. There are several ways to get a Christmas tree for free. You can grow it, cut one down in the woods, steal one from Walmart, or make your own. The first suggestion will take you about five years, the second is not kind to the forests and is also probably illegal, and the third is definitely illegal, although totally feasible. At least according to the Walmart cashier who subtly suggested it to us last year. I’m not sure if he was kidding or just didn’t want the hassle of going outside to ring it up.

I weighed my options. There are no Walmarts on our island to steal from,  no pine trees to cut down in the forest, and the only soil I own is in my dustpan, so I decided to make my own Christmas tree.

Here’s how I did it:

First, I gathered my materials.

  • I used the pole from a miniature flag (the kind that’s popular to attach to your car windows here on the island. I ripped off the flag, hung it on the wall, and just had the stick laying around). You can use anything long and skinny: a dowel, a skewer, etc. Sharpening the end to a point may be helpful, too, if it’s not already sharp.
  • A whole lot of paper and cardboard. I used about 5 old newspapers, a used notebook, a consumable book, two magazines, this year’s used-up calendar a big box and a bunch of little boxes. Even the box your toothpaste came in will work.
  • Scissors and possibly an exacto knife
  • A pen
  • A ruler (optional)
  • A large tin or something along those lines for the base
  • Decorations: String, tinsel, ornaments, ribbon, popcorn, shells, hairclips, etc.

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The next step is to anchor your pole. I just duct-taped it securely to a square of cardboard.
Now prepare to cut your paper. What size do you want your tree? The paper part of my tree is about 2 feet tall. It took me four hours to cut and stack the paper. The bottom layers of paper are a foot across. If you want a taller tree, cut larger squares. If you want a tiny tree, start with smaller squares.
Cut about half an inch of stacked paper to 12″ x 12″ or however large your bottom layer needs to be.
Pick up the first sheet of paper. Fold corner-to-corner and crease so that I makes a triangle. Do the same the other way so that you have a creased “X” on your paper. Where the lines intersect is the exact center of the paper. Use your pen to poke a hole in the center. Slide the paper onto the pole.
Repeat this until all your 12×12 paper is gone. Now, cut another stack of paper to about 11.75″ x 11.75.” Crease and slide the paper the same way you did before.
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Continue in this way. You’ll have to feel out the size changes as you go. If you want your tree tall and slim, you should decrease size of your paper less often and make more gradual decreases. I you want it shorter and fatter, decrease the size more often and make the decreases in paper size greater.
As you go, alternate the type of material you use. Be creative! Have fun with color and texture. Raid the recycle bin, check your pantry, and go through those stacks of paper you don’t need. I was amazed at how much recyclable material I found in our tiny one-bedroom apartment.
Leave a few inches of your pole paper-free. Slide the paper up to the top of the pole so that you can anchor the pole into the base.
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To make your base, fill your container (I used an empty Nido tin) full of beans, rocks, or sand. Create a hole in the top and stick the pole of your tree into it. Make sure to anchor and balance it.
Now is the most fun part! Time to decorate.
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Make a tree topper. I used tinfoil to fashion a star.
Use a needle, thread, and popcorn to make a popcorn strand.
I made woven paper heart ornaments. Directions coming in a future post.
The little pink hearts are made with clay mixed with cinnamon essential oil.
You can sew baubles directly onto the tree or hang them from a strand of popcorn/tinsel.
You’re finished! Congratulations. You have created a Christmas tree for free. Now, go enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. You deserve it after saving those trees and that money.
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One Hour in France

One week after the attacks on Paris, the French flags in Marigot, French St. Martin fly at half-mast. Although the crowds of tourists seem to obliviously enjoy the sun, sand, and sea, the denizens of Saint Martin–on both sides of the island– feel a change in the atmosphere.

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Fort Louis in Marigot, French St. Martin flies the French flag at half-mast

 

Although French St. Martin’s port flies only France’s flag at half-mast, the Dutch side of the island is hoisting all flags at half-mast, a gesture of support and compassion for its French counterpart. “Je Suis France,” cries a sign in Simpson Bay. It is times like these that the unity of the nationally-divided island is most evident.

The significance of the bombing hits close to home for many– for us, exactly .70 miles from home. I’m sure you can image the underlying fear that many people on our island feel. Besides sharing our land with the French, many of us, Ben and I included, have loved ones who live in Paris.

Security on the island is tightening as events continue to unfold. On Monday, the Dutch-side newspaper announced the arrival of a small group of Arab men with false Greek passports. The men were detained as suspected potential terrorists. I’m pretty sure they’re not– real terrorists would certainly have more realistic passports and would know better than to use Greece as their cover country.

Tuesday, the police created a road block and checked every single car on the route to the capitol. I’m not sure why, but it certainly slowed down traffic and I was glad to be coming back rather than heading toward Philipsburg.

The attack in Paris not only brought our attention and compassion to Parisians, it also (finally) opened many Western eyes to similar tragedies around the world: West Bank, Somalia, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Chad, and Cameroon all experienced acts of terrorism in the month of November, 2015 before Paris was bombed. We did not hear about those on the news because terrorism in Africa and the Middle East no longer shocks us.

Perhaps our horror at the attack on Paris will give us renewed perspective on terrorism in any country.

Maybe it will get our attention so that we will stop re-posting and start doing something about it.

Dutch Sint Maarten is not the only place Syrian refugees showed up with false papers. I heard of incidents in both Honduras and Texas in the last 24 hours. Of all the people currently affected by terrorism, certainly Syrians are at the top of the list. It seems they have nowhere to go, so they are going wherever they can. Wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, there’s not much I can do for the suffering of Paris except put up a French flag on my Facebook account and bear with the haters and the cries of “white supremacy.” It’s not much, but it’s a way to join with St. Maarten in supporting St. Martin and France.

Fortunately, there are tangible ways that you and I can help the people escaping violence in Syria!

I found this article from a UK-based news source that gives practical ways that “regular people” can be a part of the solution.

One of my friends offered this updated Amazon link. You can spend that unused Amazon gift card and send needed items to be distributed to refugees.

Friends, the world can be a terrible place. The acts of wickedness shock us, petrify us, make us weep. But we don’t have to live in fear, without hope. We can be the hope. We can be part of the solution. We can pray for God to bring comfort, peace, and justice. Then we can stand up and be the answers to our own prayers. We can bring light into this dark world. We can extend the hand of compassion to those who are hurting. This is what God has called us to do, and we can all do it, wherever we are.

 

 

 

Community Action Day at American University of the Caribbean

What do you get when you combine packed buses, hundreds of purple t-shirts, smiling faces, and a giant rain storm? No, not the first day of your third-grade church camp– but good guess. You get American University of the Caribbean’s 2015 Community Action Day!

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An AUC Student Tutors in Reading

I love organized service projects. Our undergrad university put on a day of outreach each spring, and all the students got a day off classes to do yard work for the elderly, paint over graffiti, etc. I was happy to find out that AUC does essentially the same thing, although a day off school is not an option here. The event organizers offered about two dozen different CAD activities, and students and campus groups could sign up for whatever they choose. Ben and I decided to go help with the Little League Player Development Program, since I already volunteer with this organization.

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Coach Tom Shows Us the Science Room

We met our group at AUC and took a bus over to the baseball field. Not too many kids had arrived before us, so Coach Tom gave us a tour of the team’s clubhouse. The clubhouse is a wonderful place. It’s made up of three shipping containers– one filled with science stuff, one dedicated to reading, and one full of exercise equipment. Every week day and Saturday, the kids come to the clubhouse for tutoring and baseball practice. Coach Tom and his wife, Lisa, along with whoever shows up to volunteer, help the kids with math and reading. This kids are rewarded with baseball cards and time to play with toy trains and the science projects.

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Ben and His Classmates Tutor Kids

About 25 kids showed up on Saturday, and all the volunteers sat down with a child or two to help with reading. As they finished, kids and AUC students moved to the field to practice baseball.

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A Beautiful Day for Baseball

In the Caribbean, storms rise up out of nowhere and drench the earth with driving rain. It’s rainy season now, so it was not really a surprise when the heavens opened and poured the waters of all the seven seas upon us! We all congregated under tarps and into the containers to wait out the rain.

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Even AUC Professors get Involved

When the rain let up a little bit, Lisa drove Ben and I next door to the local university, where the Migratory Bird Festival was being held. She went back for a few kids at a time when the weather finally cleared. We colored some pictures of birds, learned about their feeding habits, and adopted a Gaiac tree to raise. Since Sint Maarten has been in a drought this year, there was an exhibit on drought and how it affects the birds–ironically, it was partially damaged by the rain and had to be moved inside!

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Raising and Planting A Gaiac Tree Helps the Ecosystem Thrive
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One of the Kids Discovers Pond Life

At noon, we walked the kids back to the baseball field. Most of the other volunteers were playing catch with the kids. We said goodbye to everyone from the team and piled into the bus to head back to Cupecoy. It had been a great morning.

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Most photos courtesy of Tom and Lisa Burnett

Ben’s Pen: The Kind of Doctor I Want to Be and Why

Here’s a special post written by my husband, Ben. This is his story.

Growing up in Africa

A single set of car headlights could be seen bobbing up and down on a remote dirt road at midnight. Our jeep jolted over every bump as it raced through the night. My parents were driving me to Heri Adventist Hospital in remote Tanzania. I had appendicitis and needed immediate attention. My only hope was a surgeon named Dr. Alvin Rocero, the only person within hundreds of miles that could perform such a surgery. The journey was not a comfortable one, and each bump caused a sharp pain in my lower abdomen.

After several hours, we arrived and Dr. Rocero was there to meet us. We were so grateful that he and his team were willing to receive us so late at night. The staff performed the necessary blood tests and confirmed that I had an elevated white blood cell count. I remember being wheeled into the operating room and after the anesthetic, blackness.

After surgery in a remote hospital


   I awoke the next morning, blurry eyed and confused, but grateful to be alive. The appendectomy had been successful. A four inch incision, complete with stitches, marked the lower right side of my abdomen, since the materials for a laparoscopic appendectomy were not available in rural Tanzania. As I lay there in the hospital, I watched the medical staff come and go. I saw the incredible needs that they met with limited personnel and equipment. I saw the love with which they served people they did not even know, treating each patient with the utmost care.

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One of the nurses at Heri Adventist Hospital

Five months later, I injured my knee while playing rugby at my boarding school in Kijabe, Kenya. I underwent a successful arthroscopic surgery at Kijabe Mission Hospital. Unfortunately, thirty minutes after the operation, I began to get a severe headache. The pain escalated until it was unbearable. I do not remember what happened after that, but the hospital staff said that my fever spiked and I slipped into a coma. My condition worsened by the minute, and the doctors thought that I was going to die. They called my parents, telling them to get on the next flight from Tanzania to Kenya because they did not think that I was going to survive. However, they performed a spinal tap and discovered that my cerebral spinal fluid was a milky color. Doctor Myrick immediately suspected meningitis and started me on intravenous antibiotics. His quick decision saved my life. Thirty minutes after they administered the antibiotics, I snapped out of the coma and began to recover.

Playing rugby for Rift Valley Academy
Playing rugby for Rift Valley Academy

In the span of six months, I had endured much pain and suffering and almost died twice. It had not only affected me physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I realized how fragile life is and how quickly it can be lost. As I recovered in those mission hospitals, I had ample time to reflect on this and to observe the personnel who worked there. They had not only administered to me with loving care but also to everyone else. These people dealt with stressful situations every day. They were either paid too little or not at all. Many of them had sacrificed lucrative practices in the United States to come and voluntarily serve thousands of medically underprivileged people. Yet, they treated each patient with the dignity and respect that every human life deserves. Just because the services were free or at expense costs did not mean that they did the bare minimum. These people went above and beyond. They saw me. Not just whether I needed another antibiotic injection, or an IV bag, but they saw the trauma that I had gone through. They took compassion on me. They would talk to me to make sure that I was doing OK. They noticed when I was confused about something and clarified it until I understood. They exhibited the often-forgotten part of caring for people—to actually care about them. Many medical professionals can easily give a good first impression based on their physical appearance. However, all of that can be quickly forgotten if they are aloof, uncaring, and insensitive. People want to know that doctors care. They want to see it in tangible ways. It is a life-long journey of learning how to become a more compassionate and caring healthcare provider. I believe that is what separates the great doctors from the mediocre doctors.

Living through these experiences inspired me to become a doctor, a compassionate and caring doctor. I want to be a physician who can care for physical ailments and conditions, but also someone who can empathize with the hurt, the confusion, the pain, the stress, the unknown, the chaos, the unfair, and the loss that patients in hospitals experience every single day. There will be many tough cases that I will face daily. There will be many demands that are placed on me. People will be difficult. Patients will be ungrateful. Technology will become frustrating. Co-workers will not cooperate. Even though all of these things will happen, I will choose every single day to see the needs of people, not just their physical needs, but their emotional and spiritual needs as well. I want to comfort the person who is crying, to acknowledge the one who feels lonely, and to clarify when I see confusion in someone’s eyes. I want to be there when someone’s world is falling apart. Being a compassionate and caring doctor is a lifelong process. It is part of being a true professional; a professional who cares.

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#HumanLivesMatter

The Cyberpeople are busy this week. My Facebook news feed is filled with causes, political arguments, moral statements, issue positions, photos of suffering people, cries for help, and hashtags for this cause or that. We live in an age where news and opinions are available at our fingertips in two seconds. The online world is saturated with activism and issues.

I’ve noticed that the real-life world around me is oddly silent on the problem of dead Syrian babies, dead unborn babies, dead officers, and dead African-Americans.

There are a few things that I find disturbing about this.

First, I find the Facebook world irrationally dichotomistic on many issues. For example, in the matter of the shootings of African-Americans and police officers. I see some people posting a lot of #blacklivesmatter, and other people posting a lot of #policelivesmatter. Don’t both police lives and black lives matter? Can’t I care about both police officers and black people? Do I have to pick? I think that the heart behind these posts are good. People want to show their care for a group of people that are hurting. But in my view, making a case for it seems to indicate that there is a legitimate position stating that black lives or police lives don’t matter, and clearly this is not the case! In reality, do these “sides” really exist? I would imagine that there are very few people who are happy when an either African-American or a police officer dies. I think the real line is drawn between the psychos who maliciously shoot people and the people who want to live in a safe, fair society. In my opinion, the problem of a false division (and possibly the violence itself?) among people groups is perpetuated by attention in the media– the professional kind and the social kind. Black lives matter. Police lives matter. White lives matter, Asian lives matter, Hispanic lives matter, librarian lives matter, accountant lives matter, teacher lives matter. Because human lives matter. So let’s live our daily lives like we believe that–let’s stop posting our hashtags and go be nice to some people today.

The second thing that disturbs me about the social media saturation of issues is that I see far more “awareness” being raised online than I see people who are actually, physically, non-virutually doing something about these issues. Friends, posting an article on Facebook doesn’t count as activism unless you are also actively involved in the cause. People are willing to post their outrage over injustice; we’re not often willing to actually take a day and do something that makes a physical impact. I know I’m guilty of this! I really hate posting my political opinions on Facebook, because it reminds me that I’m not actually doing anything active like calling senators or circulating petitions or volunteering. I don’t feel like I need to share my opinions with 921 people (minus whoever unfriends me after reading this post) who don’t care. I don’t say this to condemn those who are politically active online. Many of you have a platform to post political items; I don’t. There are enough people posting my same ideas about government. If I want to make a difference, I need to get out there and do something with my voice and with my hands.

The same goes for the ten thousand causes I see floating around cyberspace. I don’t care if your favorite cause is homeless puppies or defeating Isis. If all you do is Instagram a clever meme, you’re not doing anything to further your cause. Those kids in Uganda are still going to be hungry whether or not you post a picture of a kid with big brown eyes and a distended belly. If you want to make a difference, go make a donation to World Vision. Or go volunteer with the Peace Corps. Or sell your house,move to Uganda, learn Lugandan, and train young mothers how to cook nutritious food. Then, once you’ve done something real, then post that picture, along with a link to your organization so others to get involved, too.

Here’s the million dollar question: Do I care, or do I just want to look like I care?

Ask yourself that. Be honest.

Here’s my challenge, to me and to you. Log off your computer and close down your apps. Go do something this weekend that makes a real difference. Be a real activist. And then blog about your experience– not so you can look good, but so other people can be inspired and do the same thing.

Make someone’s life better.

Fight for justice.

Heal a hurting heart.

Because #HumanLivesMatter.

Cover image copyright Breana Johnson 2015