Memorial weekend – for my US American friends a long weekend where they not only enjoy free time with family and friends, but also a time to reflect about those having given the ultimate sacrifice for the country. Everywhere flags lowered, on radio shows people phone in to commemorate loved once. Even if all other countries have this kind of memento for fallen soldiers, somehow it is a bit strange to me as the concept of a nation and fighting about territory or power and influence is somehow a strange concept for me. I simply can’t see that soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq during an unjust war can be styled into fallen heroes – for me they are rather victims of a political system unable to bring peace by peaceful means. But I guess there everybody has a different point of view.
Having said this, traveling within the States to develop a HOPE Cape Town related entity called HOPE Cape Town USA I realize more and more, how daunting this task is and that I have to learn a hell of a lot about the people, the way of life or better the way of lives, as crisscrossing the country I see vast differences in behavior and daily habits. But they all have things in common:
I am fascinated by the quest of freedom for the individual to pursue happiness, I am thrilled to see the general friendliness and openness and at the same time their notion of a gun loving nation is the darker flip side I have trouble to understand.
The generosity is mind-boggling, the gap between those having ways to much and those just living on the fringes of society or just making it through the year seems to be God-given in this country. The gap feels different from what I experience it in South Africa and I would have lots of question when it comes to the role of the federal government in terms of social services.
All that said to build up HOPE Cape Town USA is a task of magnitude – and I am so grateful to have with Stacie Greskowiak McNulty and Shirley and Joe Kunzmann persons of deep integrity and the will to assist and lead the effort in bringing Africa and America together. It is indeed not a one-way road: we can learn from each other and people from all walks of life, those living with HIV, those being affected by HIV but also all others we encounter can benefit from this exchange of ideas, this combined will to be a relevant piece in this mosaic we call the world.
I am excited, excited for HOPE Cape Town to be able to expand and connect, excited in my own capacity learning so much every time I meet with my US American friends, excited of the prospect of serving a meaningful purpose for those we care for in our work.
New York, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey – the first baby steps of HOPE Cape Town USA and on this Memorial Day 2016 I feel gratitude for all those people who serve their country by simply doing good, assisting those in need, serving the broader community and bringing people of different walks of life together for the benefit of the common good.