Ethiopia…and a million other places.

So I wrote a paper for one of my classes about our failure to feed global populations, and a cartoon about starving children in Ethiopia.  Please read on, for it is one of many great tragedies that we forget about, or turn a blind eye to.  I only strive to awaken you, as it has awakened me.  As always, thank you for your time.

Ethiopia:  Far From Utopia

“Tigray province in the high, remote North is the ancient spiritual home of Ethiopia, mesmerizing in its rugged, isolated, hard beauty” (“CBC News In depth: Ethiopia”).  This description of Ethiopia is tranquil, picturesque, and fanciful.  Although many of us would like to buy into this image, or bury our heads in the sand, the reality of Ethiopia will not align itself with our fantasies until we take a long, hard look at the nightmare which we allow them to continue living.  “On that first day, I glimpsed Ayano in the intensive care room, wrapped in a red and blue blanker, struggling to breathe, his eyes tipped back into his skull. When I next saw him, he was trussed up the blanket that had become his death shroud, lying on a slab next to two other small bundles in the morgue” (“Among the Starving in Ethiopia – TIME”).  Just to paint a picture and put things in perspective, as I read this article and come across this description of unimaginable heartbreak, I noticed an advertisement directly to the right of these spine chilling words.  It read:  “Breakthrough in reversing wrinkles and signs of aging.”  It is said that life in Ethiopia is cheap, but the haunting chants of the funeral wails would testify otherwise.  Next time you look in the mirror and agonize over your newest wrinkle or gray hair, think beyond yourself and your aesthetic to these innocent, helpless children being stalked by vultures and tossed into ditches.

In Cam Cardow’s syndicated cartoon “Ethiopia,” he sheds light onto the tragedy that is the situation in Ethiopia, which could easily be entitled Niger, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, or increasingly countless others.  He employs the use of logos, ethos, and pathos persuasions to speak to the heart, mind, or conscious of anyone who encounters his work.  There is a picture of a starving, gaunt child with sunken in features, looking the reader in the eyes and thinking, “If I wait long enough, the media will eventually arrive” (Cardrow 457).  Maybe it is because the media has been here before, and they are over it, but there is a lack of media attention.  There is certainly enough to focus on with the war, oil prices, and Lindsey Lohan’s newest debaucheries.  They justify that there is a lack of grave pictures depicting the horrors, however, it would be disgusting and disgraceful to wait until there are images of children being stalked by vultures, which there is, before they take action.  This portion of the cartoon is employing ethos, the ethical residence within us.  Cardrow is appealing to us by pointing out that these children are helpless, defenseless, and at our mercy, and they are.

The second frame shows that same child, in the same state, but this time thinking, “and expose one of the worst famines to hit Ethiopia” (Cardrow 457).  Again, the media has been there before, dating back to 1980 when there was much hype over this still existing tragedy.  The problem is that nothing has changed.  “The reasons are paved in the good intentions of rich nations, good deeds that have punished Ethiopia with perpetual want” (“Among the Starving in Ethiopia – TIME”).    In all areas of life, Americans are treating the symptoms rather than addressing and fixing the problem; take a pill and it will go away, shut off the alarm and deal with it later.  We are giving these tiny creations of God a miniscule fish, and then going home to our warm beds and flat screens rather than taking the time and efforts to teach them to fish and care for themselves.  I cannot quit asking myself why.  People everywhere are starving, our environment is ailing, and our health is laughable.  We are creating more and more sophisticated and interesting gadgets, but we are also creating our own destruction.  There is a Grand Canyon between Education and Intelligence.  We are more educated and technological yet our egos run our lives and our society.  There is so much that we could do to help those crying out for us, yet we continue to pacify our consciouses by throwing a bone, never taking the time to truly create a revolution.  We are willing to do anything, as long as it is convenient, does not make us uncomfortable, or interrupt our highly important lives.  “Hundreds of millions are spent on immediate food relief because the popular notion is to alleviate the plight of starving children.  But that means little is spent on economic development to prevent the shortages that led to hunger in the first place” (“Among the Starving in Ethiopia – TIME”).  Cardrow is appealing to our logic (logos) by addressing the absurdity of the hamster wheel.  Nothing has changed since 1980, it is obviously time to get off the wheel, and actually fix the problem.  It makes sense, so what stops us, what are we waiting for?

The third frame shows the same child, this time staring blankly ahead, no longer acknowledging the reader’s presence, with the caption “Yep, should be along any minute now” (Cardrow 457).  This child still clinging to a shred of hope has no other option, yet our silence speaks volumes.  The fourth frame shows the same picture, but no caption.  The fifth, the child is lying down on his side, with his back to us—hopeless, awaiting his fate.  The last, the child is a skeleton—without any sense of loss or recognition from us, his “savior.”  Cardrow is speaking to our pathos, our character.  America is a beautiful institution, we are the Utopia that everyone else strives for and dreams about.  We truly do have it in our power to change the world.  We could stop funding wars, and start advocating and creating peace.  We could focus even more efforts on the causes, and bleed less money into the pharmaceutical companies and healthcare system that turns its back on the “weak” and “powerless”—the unaccounted, unimportant, unrecognized.  We can take our beautiful technologies and discoveries and implement them in these suffering countries, supplying them with the means to feed them for a lifetime rather than a moment.

As I glance at the advertisement for reversing wrinkles, I read further, becoming humbled by the words from a survivor from the Ethiopian famine in 1984; the girl whom reporters were talking about when they said, “I noticed her slumping to the pavement and called a nurse but it seemed too late…We left, to at least allow her dignity in death. Her grave was already being dug outside, alongside thousands of other victims” (“CBC News In depth: Ethiopia”).  Birhan , now known as the “miracle girl” from the Great 1984 Famine gratefully stated,” I barely survived death but I came through.  And today when I see so many beautiful things, I’m grateful to be alive.  Always I say I could have been just dust by now, but I’m not.  I’m alive to see beauty around me, and to see new things.  I’m very happy” (“CBC News In depth: Ethiopia”).  We should be affected by this.  “There, but by the grace of God go I.”  If Birhan can be grateful for something that none of us could even imagine, then we have a lot to learn, and can begin by taking action for those who are waiting for our mercy, our brothers and sisters.

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"Someone once told me the definition of hell: On the last day you have on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become." Anonymous.  And that would be a good place to begin. Often we know not what our purpose is until we think in terms of our eternal purpose. The moment I allowed my mind to expand to eternal proportions, it all came into full view. All of my micro passions and purposes could fall under one heavenly macro purpose banner. To live up to my potential, and pave the way for others to do the same.  As a child, I had an inner fire to learn everything I could to rise above the circumstances I was born into. It was like there was a scream in my soul. "I don't belong here, we don't belong here. Something is wrong here!" As a child I remember knowing I was born to rewrite the story. I can't imagine that is typical of most children. I recall wrestling with the decision between having play dates with friends or reading dates with myself. My mom and I would sojourn to our local library where I would faithfully check out the max number of books as they toppled out of my arms. The majority were non-fiction, particularly autobiographies of underdogs defying the odds.  I was born into two family lines riddled by addiction, anxiety and depression. I remember intrinsically knowing we were made for more. I have spent my life on a mission to choose differently. I have to credit my parents for instilling awareness in me. They had their struggles, but they always reminded me that things can be different. They may not have had the tools or strength to overcome their struggles, but they created a human who could and would. Awareness is half the battle. Too many grow up not knowing any different. They live reactionary lives imitating what they see and all they know. That is why I'm determined to educate and demonstrate that we are the creators of our reality, that we are not limited by circumstance or DNA. We are truly limitless.  I am a voracious reader who reads books that help unlock greatness and point to unlimited potential.  I am a writer who writes with the intention to unlock the inner hero begging to be released.  I am a personal trainer who trains others with the intent to show them that the only limits they have are those in their mind.  I am an athlete who had yet to achieve her potential because her mindset was broken and spirit was in bondage. It was the silent shame I carried throughout my life. I dedicated myself to studying how I could turn that shame into my superpower. I am now an athlete who gets to visibly demonstrate how truly limitless we really are. I am keenly aware that my movement conveys a powerful message. I know others are watching. I know the world needs this wake up call. I know I did.  And I know I haven't even started yet.  So when I nearly died and lost my feet in the process, I knew I was being called to the mat so to speak. I was being offered the opportunity to demonstrate my beliefs for all to see. While I may have felt "why me," my soul knew I had been uniquely prepared for this challenge. My soul said "of course, me." And that was the North Star that guided me through the hell I would have to traverse alone. I set out on a journey with my Maker to find ME. The real me. All of me. Who I was capable of being. Possibly more importantly, I discovered who I WAS NOT. I was refined in the FIRE. I am here by the GRACE of God and the GRIT of myself. I became an alchemist, turning tragedy into triumph, loss into gain, victimhood into victory. I choose carefully for I know that I create my own reality.  PS you can read more about how I lost my feet here:  I am a Speaker. I realize this is bigger than I am. It is my privilege to share my story in a way that conveys hope smothered in tough love and points toward freedom. We are capable of so much more than we can begin to comprehend. We can choose it and we can do so today. We simply need be WILLING, AUDACIOUS and RELENTLESS.  I am a Writer. Writing is where I first tasted freedom. It is where I am all of me, where I speak my full truth, and where I allow God to speak through me. My message bypasses my brain coming straight from my spirit. Heck, it comes from my cells. I write to say what needs to be said. I write not to make one think, but to make one act.  My intention is not to make you feel good, or to think I am smart, but to get off your ass and live your life to the fullest. To live and love today to the fullest because it could be your last. Nothing is promised, not even the next second.  I am an athlete. It is an attitude, a swagger, a philosophy, a belief, a spirit. It is a commitment. Athletes aren't afraid to sweat and get dirty. They aren't afraid to try and "fail" because they know you only fail if you stay on the couch. And you can get off that couch this very second. I will push my athletic ability to the limits, and then I will push past them. There is no time clock, I will do this until the day I die. Where there is breath, there is hope and there is LIFE. I am ALIVE. I do not and I will not take that for granted. I move my body because I am blessed to do so because there are some who can't. There is always someone with less than you have doing more than you are. Make THEM proud. Honor their grit, thereby developing your own. Inspiration is tricky business. I don't want to be called inspiring as you scroll through Facebook. I want to INSPIRE your ACTION. I want to ELIMINATE your EXCUSES. My goals will continue to evolve because once I have ascended one mountain, I celebrate the view and then set my sights on the next. I am a runner with no feet whose wings span wide. I will run far and fly high. I am a trainer.  I am EXCUSELESS. Because I choose none for myself, I will accept none of yours. I am not for everybody, but I am for those who are hungry and committed to radically change their lives.  I am committed to doing my part to radically upgrade the dreams, expectations and lives of the collective whole. My inner hero, free spirit, champion craved existence and simply needed guidance on how to be born. I needed permission. I finally gave it to myself and now I offer it to you. I am here to remind those who need it that we were made for more.  The Phoenix Perspective is a Radical Responsibility Revolution. We have a zero tolerance policy for excuses. We make none and we accept none. Period. We know that we are more than our DNA, more than our CIRCUMSTANCES. We know that life is happening FOR us rather than TO us. We know that dying to who we thought ourselves to be so that we can become who we were meant to be is not only necessary, it is glorious. While it may not be comfortable, we know that the FIRE is our FRIEND. That it is a divine messenger sent to escort us to our higher selves. It is a message, a philosophy, a movement. It is an understanding and a vantage point. It is a challenge and an invitation. It is an initiation. 

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