So Long, Ignorance
Blissful ignorance is not such a bad thing: you live your life the way you want, you can ignore any uncomfortable thoughts, and you can justify all of your choices. Being ignorant of calories makes ice cream way more fun, being oblivious to other people’s feelings makes it way easier to be honest, and not feeling like you have to answer to anyone makes staying up late much more appealing. In fact, ignorance can even be blamed for a lack of understanding – that is, until that lack of understanding smashes into something called realization.Alissa is one of those people that you can’t help but like. As a nursing student from London, Ontario, she is outgoing without being gregarious. She lacks pretense. She loves people. When Alissa joined our Hero Holiday medical trip, Danica’s Dream, she got more than she bargained for.Medical trips can be a stretching and growing time for all of us that are involved. It can be rewarding, exhilarating, and incredibly heartbreaking to be exposed to this side of humanity. At the end of the day we are always ready to unwind and celebrate what was accomplished, dreaming of how we are going to take this experience and translate it into change in our own world. Not everyone will understand why we do what we do on these trips, but we do our best to equip people with what it will take to live your life in light of understanding. I have spent countless hours talking, listening, and communicating with those who are wrestling with how to live out life change in the world that they are returning to. Some fail. Many succeed. All are forever different.Two weeks after returning from our medical trip, a letter from Alissa showed up in our office, describing what the experience has meant to her…The words that Christal used to describe poverty continually ran through my head; the statement that she used was honest and raw. It gave me a deeper perspective: poverty is an overwhelming and insatiable beast that shows no mercy. Throughout the trip it became less of a word and more of the beast that everyone talked about. It now had names and faces. I witnessed it. I hugged and kissed its victims. How could it be just a word?At first, I begrudged you guys; I hated you for taking my ignorance away. The bliss of not knowing was a comforting lie. You took away the reliable excuse that I just didn’t know it was happening. In all honesty, to make myself feel better I tried to ignore the initial feeling of guilt that you all so knowingly speculated we would feel when we returned home. When it finally became overwhelming, I felt the need to share it with others in order to offset how selfish and guilty I felt. I found that no one really understood, or they didn’t care. This led to feelings of anger and frustration. (Ironically, how can I be angry with people for doing the same thing that I was guilty of before the trip). In fact, ignorance is bliss.But, although it may sound cliche, I feel as though I am in the right place at the right time. My life has greater purpose and meaning than just finishing school and getting a decent job…I am aware that there will most likely be situations that seem impossible to overcome with outcomes that look bleak. But where there is hope there is a possibility for change and if I am only able to make a difference in one person’s life, to make them feel important and worthy, to make them feel loved, happy and healthy, then it is entirely worth it.Thank you so much for showing me how good it feels to truly help other people.Like Alissa, we have come to accept that not everyone will be as passionate as we are with what we are a part of. Not everyone who hears about our participants’ experience will be as excited as they are about Hero Holiday. However, we do this with the dream that somehow our lives will ignite a flicker of hope for someone else. Alissa showed us it is possible; we just need to be willing to try.Thanks, Alissa, for being honest and willing to share your experience. Thanks for working so hard to be a part of change. Thanks for believing in LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute). Together we move forward.If you would like to find out more about LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute), Hero Holiday, or our School of Leadership program, please check out www.livedifferent.com. LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) has numerous projects throughout Canada and around the world that need your help to complete. You can join us and become a part of the ever-growing story.