Excuse the expletive, but “S*holes?” (*This is POTUS’ latest way of saying impoverished and underprivileged countries), S*holes are the places I love most. Why? Because sometimes it takes going to impoverished regions to appreciate all we take for granted in this country—luxuries like safe drinking water, a flushing toilet, consistent electricity, and that thing called possibility. S*holes are where people are short on resources, but big on faith and kindness. They smile. They befriend. They work hard and ask for little. They love their neighbor. They bind together in support of another. They give. Spend any amount of time in an impoverished country and tell me you haven’t come back a better person. Then stop to realize you have the resources to go there, and to return.
Any of us could’ve been born in an s*hole country with s*hole circumstances, but guess what? Sometimes, with enough fortitude, we Americans, by choice, can claw our way out. I, for one, was mostly raised by a hard-working single mother. It wasn’t easy and she did the best she could. Our family always knew we could’ve had it worse. Still, I wanted more for my life. I picked up and moved far away, across state lines, on my own. I clawed my way out of the bucket. Because of geography, we have possibility.
Some cannot help themselves. We have s* hole circumstances in our own communities: homelessness, youth with limited educational opportunities, mass incarceration, drug addiction, unemployment and those in need of medical care. Some of these situations are initially due to poor choices, but for most, they couldn’t find their own strength or another way. They couldn’t see the opportunities for themselves that exist for others.
I’ve spent months in African nations, but once with a Nigerian friend who said to me the night before I left for home, when I was whining about having to go to work, “Laura, any one person in this country would give their life to go do your job on Monday.” I remember my privilege each Monday when I roll out of bed and go to that job. People come to the U.S. seeking the same possibilities and principals this country was founded on. They come to contribute their work ethic, new ideas, grateful hearts, and hopeful spirits. They come here to make a good life, because that’s what we all desire as humans.
I dare you, people from s*hole countries. Go ahead. Come here. Make me a better person.
Please read about Laura’s own search to make a better life in her book BERING SEA STRONG (March 2018).