Sunday, October 9, 2011

What is Health?

I teach Health. It is Sunday night, and I am thinking about what my lesson plan will be for Monday, as it is by nature that I procrastinate. The usual topic for health class is "Did you eat breakfast?", "Why wear a seat belt?", and physical activity vs a sedentary lifestyle. Tonight is different. I can't think about issues like soda and cookies for lunch, or if you went for a run or played video games. My heart is too heavy for that. Although these things do affect health and are important, they get lost in the deep dark shadows of things much greater.

What is heath? What does it mean to be healthy?

My daughter, Nyellie, was sick this week with a high fever of 103 degrees (39.4 Celsius), lasting 3 days. Medicine to break her fever was not working, so the doctor prescribed an antibiotic. Today, after two days of antibiotic, a rash has appeared throughout Nya's little body. As a mother, I am saddened by her discomfort and want so badly for her to be well. My reality: my daughter is sick.

I worry for my daughter's health, but 8557 kilometers away there is another little girl in the USA going in for a liver transplant today. She is not even 1 year old. While we rejoice that one baby's life is being saved and praying with all our heart, mind and soul that she will recover quickly and grow strong, parents are grieving over the loss of their baby whose liver was donated. Their reality: For one it is, "Our baby has a hope of a future!" For the other it is, "Our baby is gone."

A friend's mother is grieving over the loss of a good friend, while at the same time eagerly awaiting the birth of her grandbaby, due at any moment. Her reality: For those we care about, there is death and there is life.

As we enjoyed dinner with a friend, he shared a story of ministry efforts in India. This ministry works to find homes for children coming from mothers at brothels. They go into the trenches to offer hope and bring light where our worst nightmares will not dare to take us. While at the brothel to pick up a child they walked though the halls and noticed what looked like a row of storage closets. They asked the manager if they use that section of the building for storage too. The question was met with a heart piercing and sickening answer: It's used to break the will of new arrivals. Like cargo going in and out. New "merchandise", new slaves, are forced to stay in dark closet-like rooms. The door opens for only food and men to be serviced until the girls surrender their will and die to themselves. When women come with young children or are pregnant the brothel does not want the burden or responsibility, so they willingly turn them over to the ministry. These mothers' reality: "I am broken, hopeless, an empty shell of a human, and do not know what has become of my baby."

It is not just Mumbai, brothels exist everywhere; human trafficking exists everywhere. Women and children are forced into prostitution or sex slavery everywhere. Think your town is immune? Guess again. So long as the human race craves money and sex to a point that they are willing to do anything to get it, rape, trafficking, kidnapping, deceit, coercion, or other means, there will be brothels, there will be strip bars, there will be massage parlors, prostitution, child pornography, nude magazines, internet porn, mail order brides, exotic dance clubs, "gentlemen's club"...... there will be.

You may be perplexed why I would even list porn and clubs in the same sentence as brothel and human trafficking. But aren't there legitimate clubs with great shows and entertainment? Don't they all voluntarily do it for great pay? Prostitutes are all druggies and choose that lifestyle anyway, right? Plus, it's everywhere. Sorry to tell you, but if you have participated in any commercial sex avenue, you are guilty of paying into human trafficking. Paying for the actual act of sex or just merely sitting back enjoying the show (or pictures) makes the commercial sex industry thrive. There are woman trafficked everywhere around the globe, suffering for your pleasure and entertainment. That woman at the strip club, yeah, she has her reality too: She dreams of helping her mother sell produce in the market again back in South America; the life she knew before she was tricked into a promising waitressing job opportunity in the US, that landed her several beatings, life threats, waitressing tables in the morning, servicing men by day, and dancing for man's pleasure night after night, and with no pay. In fact, now she is worried about the accruing debt placed on her by her employer, because she must pay back the flight ticket, passport fees, and pay for an unsatisfied customer today. People, we are the problem, and we are the solution. Make a difference and make healthy choices! Think that is too heavy? I've gone too far? Well, that is the world's reality.

Research it. Learn about it. Stop it. Don't pay into it. Fight human trafficking and the commercial sex industry.

My child has a rash. One child is getting an organ transplant. One's parents are looking at an empty nursery room. One is entering the world. One will never know his mother. One dances around a pole stripped naked of her dignity. There is a different reality for us all.

So what is health? It is not the cookie you eat or the laps you run. Health is the everyday choices we make that can affect us and the world we live in, either positively or negatively. The ripple effect of the everyday choices we make holds a greater weight than we realize. Students in my class are going to be world leaders of all levels. Youth of over 54 nationalities who are children of ambassadors and diplomats, leaders of organizations, CEOs of corporations and world banks. They really are the leaders of tomorrow. What do I teach them about health? The curriculum, which is important, just seems pale in contrast tonight.

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