Just landed in JFK with a 9 hour layover, destination: Ghana.
Here’s to another adventure and another country. As the instructions of the flight began to crackle over the speakers, the flight attendant miming the exits, and the wheels on the plane reversed- departing the gate, I had the same feeling of excitement, joy, nerves, elation, stomach full of butterflies- I felt wrestling and during the start of my #5000milesfor500scholars journey. However, this time there was a tinge of gloom/sadness and the hardest departure to date. I left my two nieces and my 3.5 year old nephew waving bye bye Uncle Jacob and him asking if I’d wave to him when I was flying in the big airplane.
I am no longer the oblivious, innocent- blue eyed blonde boy that volunteered for the Peace Corps in Cameroon, 6.5 years ago. I am “aged”, more aware, and realistic. I saw on the news #45 declare a national emergency over something that isn’t a threat deflecting from the latest mass shooting. There are many problems our country is facing and the least, I believe, should be a wall.
According to the CDC in 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999 and on average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. To me this is a national emergency.
Or the number of school shootings in 2018 where roughly 113 people were killed or injured in the US. This equates to nearly one school shooting per week. To me this is a national emergency.
Not some fear mongering tactic and symbol of hate, racism, and division. I can almost guarantee nearly everyone in the US knows somebody affected by gun violence or the opioid crisis and nearly nobody knows someone affected by illegal immigration.
To top it off there is another national emergency, the devastating effect Climate Change is having throughout the lands and seas. This will affect our kids and grandkids drastically in the years to come.
However, as always, I will try and stay optimistic and find the good with the bad. And, I can tell you there is a fire lit inside my belly that burns brighter and stronger than before, to bring goodness. I am more mature, knowledgable, confident, and determined to create bridges, love, and peace throughout the world.
We are all inhabitants of this beautiful world and only a spec amongst giants throughout the universe. I refuse to let one mans actions and rants stop me from being the best person I can be and treat every human with the equality and respect they deserve.
I am traveling to Ghana and starting another journey. The goal remains the same… putting a smile on the person in front of me and making their tomorrow better than what their today is. However, I have a little nephew and two nieces looking up to me and who will have to navigate this lovely maze we call life, and I hope to make a better and safer world for them.
I hope your 2019 is starting of well and you will continue to follow my journey.