Did you know that Honduras is the murder capital of the world? They have 82.1 murders per 100,000 residents. Compare that to 5.5 murders per 100,000 residents in Florida.
How does that make you feel? Anything at all? Perhaps you were like me and for a second said to yourself, “Wow! That’s crazy!”
Yesterday I was talking to my close friend from college. He lives in Honduras. I asked him, “What’s it like in Honduras?” He said, “It’s the murder capital of the world.” I said, “Wow! That’s crazy!”
My buddy then said, “Yeah. Just Google Honduras Murder Capital and you’ll see it all.”
So, sitting in front of my computer I Googled “Honduras Murder Capital”. Here are some of the headlines I found on Google:
- Honduras: murder capital of the world
- Instability in Honduras
- Honduras: A Violence, Repression and Impunity Capital of the World
- Peace Corps pullout hits Honduras, world’s murder capital
As I was reading through these headlines on my computer my buddy was painting the picture for me. He said there was a time when he showed up to the airport 30 minutes after 6 people had been shot right there in the airport. The bodies laid there uncovered for 2 hours before being tended to.
Another time my buddy was walking past the French Embassy at 3 pm in the afternoon when two kids rolled up on their bikes. They pulled out their handgun, pointed it at his head and asked for his phone.
My buddy talked about the death and government corruption he is surrounded by.
Something very interesting was happening to me as I was listening to all of this. The stories of death and murder were endless. That something happening to me was that I was feeling little to nothing. It struck me as odd, but it was my reality. The experience was slightly above the level of emotion I feel when my mom calls to tell me what the weather is like in Michigan.
I’m not proud to admit this. It speaks to my selfishness and privileged lifestyle here in America I suppose. Numb to it all. Taking for granted the safety and security and pleasure of the life I live.
Out of curiosity I wanted to see what surfaced when I Googled “chronically hungry people.” Here’s some of the headlines I read:
- Number of Chronically Hungry People Nears 1 Billion
- Number of chronically hungry people is rising by 5 million a year
- Images of chronically hungry people
This Google experience was vastly different from my Honduras Murder Capital experience. This experience left me in and out of the emotional states of sadness, frustration, anger, confusion, and deep pain.
It left me with the thought in side that was begging, pleading and screaming, “Something has to be done! Why is this happening! This is not right!”
There were even a few tears as I considered the 1 Billion people sitting around the planet as I write this who are starving for food. The reality that 14,000 children will die today as they lose their battle to chronic hunger began to set in.
Then this reality quickly hit me. As an American I contribute to the fact that we throw out enough food every year to feed the entire continent of Africa. I grew angry at myself for being a willful participant in something that seems like it should be a crime with so many people starving and dying from lack of food.
While working through the significant emotions I was wrestling with I had my reality check. How could I feel so little for the situation in Honduras and feel so much for the situation of chronic hunger plaguing our planet?
It’s been suggested to me by people much smarter than I that this is happening because I’ve reached a state of empathy with the chronically hungry of the world.
“Empathy…” I thought. It sounds so simple yet so profound. So, I looked it up on Google to make sure I understood what we were talking about. Here’s what Google told me:
Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another by entering into their feelings.
As I’ve participated in this 25 in Change revolution I’ve witnessed more transformation in a small group of people than I can ever recall witnessing at this level before in my life in such a short period of time. Not only have these 25 people fed over 140,000 children only 21 days in, but the transformation in each of their hearts is staggering. It’s well worth a headline on Google and it gives me reason to pause and question this:
Can empathy really change the world? Is empathy really more powerful than the old mighty dollar? If that argument could be made then at what level could we see world change if every able bodied privileged human being in a first world country committed to experience true empathy in just one area.
What are the possibilities?
I’m curious what you think and feel about this? Is this thought as big as it feels to me or am I overstating my thought here?
Lastly, if I’m not overstating my thought I’m curious if you believe in the human race to make such a commitment… I mean even if the concept of empathy (the message that is) went global do you believe in the will of the human race to engage?
The reality check for me 21 days into a commitment to only eat 8 oz. of rice and 4 oz. of beans only when someone contributes $25 toward providing 100 school meals to children… the reality check for me is YES! Empathy is more powerful a force than I ever could have imagined.
What do you think?
Thank you for highlighting the horible situation in Honduras. Not enough people know what is going on there. Even fewer still know the US government’s role in the violence. Check out the story in the NACLA-Report on the Americas. Thanks, Dan