Here and There
Here and There
After a three-month stent in Uganda, returning to America represented nothing less than sweet normalcy and of course the peace of assured security. It was particularly fetching to welcome an environment of civilized behavior in which most citizens were cheerfully focused on the upcoming holiday season. In contrast, the September act of terrorism in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, initiated an overwhelming alarm in Kampala and within hours the city was swarmed with police and army personnel on alert for similar activities. Everywhere you turned there was a gun in your face, reminding us all that our safety was in jeopardy. In that Uganda’s capital city has a sister mall to the one in Nairobi, it was spotlighted as a possible threat and getting into the center meant a significant body search of all would be shoppers. The perpetrators, Al Shabaab, were out to punish both Kenya and Uganda for sending troops to Somalia, therefore the immediate and foreboding future was taken extremely seriously.
Upon landing at Dulles International Airport in Washington everything seemed American normal and after clearing immigrations I made my way to the gate where I would board my next plane, the eleventh of a total of twelve. It was in the waiting area that a conversation between several passengers made way to my ears and I realized that not all was as tranquil as originally imagined. This particular day was “Black Friday,” the day that is deemed to be the most intensive shopping day of the year. The words chosen to depict the preceding day, Thanksgiving, were shocking and I sat in total dismay as events of it all were recounted. Apparently several stores had opened and instead of feasting with family, many had opted for a day of searching through the opened stores in effort to access the year’s best “deals” before anyone else. Okay, things weren’t as usual, but not any real reason for concern.
Later that night after arriving in Ft. Worth, my final destination, the news was aired telling stories of chaos and violence within the stores that received the Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shoppers. Apparently there was even one death attributed to the mobbing as folks scrambled to access merchandise that had been generously discounted. At first I didn’t believe my ears and stopped to listen in total dismay. Yes, it was true. People had apparently gone temporarily insane over “hot deals” and lost control of themselves. It was literally beyond comprehension.
Beyond this, thoughts of Beirut, Lebanon had pre-occupied my mind. Beirut was the last city I had visited on this return trip home and it, too, had significant security concerns. Camouflaged huts equipped with major weapons and army personnel were hidden all about the city as though it was a war zone. As I strolled throughout the central area I tried to ignore their presence, but in that the huts were numerous, I could not help but ingest the threats and dire need for such protection. To make matters worse, there had been a bombing within the city less than two weeks earlier, and everyone was on high alert as they were in Kampala.
All these occurrences took root in my mind and it wasn’t long before I had painfully assessed the situation here at home. Such behavior of American citizens is unacceptable and embarrassing to say the least. Hopefully no one in Uganda heard this news and never will, as it is quite the rude awakening to discover that such violence exists and all in the name of consumerism and greed. Most of the people in Uganda live on less than a dollar a day and yet they are the most kind and generous people I have ever known. The scenarios here are indeed polar and deserve a long and intense assessment as we consider what America has become. In Uganda Christmas doesn’t mean presents, but only to worship God and celebrate the birth of Christ. Going to one’s village is the icing on their cake, as they will all receive little more than that. Certainly recognition of such differences will conjure a fair amount of thought, or even sadness while regarding such selfish acts seemingly found only in our America.