Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Third world

Today, resting at home, recuperating from parasites, amoebas and more, with no electricity from about 7 am, I decided to read – and do my laundry!

I picked up a newer version of a book I had read a few years ago on cultural challenges. I am realizing that one of my frustrations is not always being well-aware of the cultural differences here.

But what struck me was the authors use of the term “majority world,” something I had run across before. I also had heard the term “two-thirds world.” These are ways of trying to refer to what has often been called the “third world.” The term “third world” has become offensive.

In one way I can understand this. How can we refer to most of the world’s population, the impoverished majorities, in a way that doesn’t demean them, as third-class citizens.

In my work I don’t run across a “world.” I run across people and communities. There’s Xiomara and Mery, Isaías and José, Carlitos and Darlin, Wendy and Kayli. There’s Plan Grande, Dulce Nombre, Pasquingual, Delicias.

But in a way they are a “third world,” a world pushed to the margins, a world denied access to the world’s goods. The people are treated as third-class (or worse).

But they are more than their economic status. They are real people. This came home to me when I went to visit my neighbor and they told me that the father of a young catechist in a nearby village had been killed on Sunday. They are people who bleed and grieve, who suffer loss. They are people who are victimized – not victims; they are impoverished, not poor. And many of them have a resilience and a faith I cannot even dream of.

So now, with the electricity finally on, I will post this to help recall the real people who are all too often categorized as poor victims. No. They are real people.

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