As I reflect on our week in Brazil, I have struggled to find a context to hold the experience we had. I am still struggling so this is a work in process. First, the world is a big, big place, and the challenges it faces take on a new dimension when you see them with your own eyes. How many times have I said that I am committed to making the world a better place without having seen most of the world I'm referring to? Without understanding what a better place means for most of the people living in that world?
I am humbled by the experience of joy and community I had within what I assumed would be dreadful poverty. In the shanty towns outside Rio, there is garbage in the streets and men with machine guns making life far less certain that I could have ever imagined, but there are also smiles on the faces of the children.
In the Amazonian rainforest, where at least 20% of the land has been clearcut, a huge Cargill facility was recently constructed that will attract ever more clearcutting to supply the company with soy. This is a place where homes are burned, priests have their lives threatened, and everyone has their own story of corruption. Yet communities are successfully reinventing themselves, hope is not lost, and a beauty that is more than your eye’s can hold remains to nourish your soul.