I used to wonder how other people could be so cynical.
What could’ve happened that made them lose faith in magic, mystery or even themselves? What forces converged leading to the decay of their capacity for trusting in the possibility of the unimaginable? How did they come to think that they know better than to believe in miracles?
Then one day, I realized I had become one of those people. I had learned to compromise my sense of wonder, making way for the all-consuming need for numbers, answers, science and proof. I had cultivated a wall of resistance to what could be large-scale visionary and revolutionary. I had tempered my predilection for bold, albeit unsubstantiated dreams and learned to calculate satisfaction based on projections and how much worse things could be. My approach went from absolute yes to measured maybe with a sprinkling of highly doubtful.
I know now that cynicism develops out of a need for self-protection. Those of us who can admit to a degree of cynicism can attest to the all-too-familiar disappointment or heartbreak we feel when something or someone we believed in didn’t turn out to be credible.
These past few weeks, I had an amazing opportunity to knock cynicism. When a few of us told a few others that we’re going on a humanitarian trip to Africa, I had no idea how vigorously they would respond. I thought I’d fill a duffel bag with donated goods and fill another with things I’d gathered from a few stores. In a matter of days, we were flooded with literally tons of wonderful and highly coveted products. Friends told their friends who told more friends and so on. *Businesses, large and small, sent pallets, boxes and bags of items we so easily take for granted in our comfortable lives. Folks from various socio-economic groups opened their hearts and wallets so that rape victims in desperate conditions might have a chance to rebuild their lives. I was moved to hear from a contributor that, when she told the clerk at a discount store about the recipients of her purchased items, the clerk immediately pulled out his wallet and handed her $25 of his hard-earned money.
In a few hours, I’ll be on a plane for my second visit to V-Day’s City of Joy in Congo. I’m not sure if I’ve completely recovered from the intensity of my first visit, or if I need to, but I’m very much looking forward to going back. On Valentine’s Day, I look forward to participating in **One Billion Rising — a global Strike, Dance, Rise campaign to end violence against women and girls — with 90 remarkable Congolese women who know probably better than anyone how utterly therapeutic dance can be. If these women are anything like the women I met last year, then I’m in for another life-changing experience. I hope to share a few moments and photos here when I get back.
*A big thanks to American Eagle, the Gap, Seven 7 Jeans, EO Products to name a few for coming through in a big way. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my wonderful dentist Dr. Robert Ho for not only being a repeat and generous donor but for also getting his buddies Drs. Patricia Wong, Heejay Chung and Biana Roykh to donate.
**To learn more about One Billion Rising, or to participate in a Rising or organize your own dance revolution, go here.