Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.  The question of connection haunts us.  Our age of acceleration has magnetically pulled us into digital spaces, with the promise of connection, yet it never satiates.  Our quest leaves us hollow.  We spend addictive amounts of time on social media, texting, and emailing, yet our hundreds of digital friends don’t improve our well-being.

The well of being, how can we fill it?

Perhaps, in order to experience more connection, all we have to do is realize we are truly connected, already.  What if it is just a shift in our perceptions to focus on the exquisite lacework of humanity.

One of the most challenging concepts for me to unfold is an understanding of our interconnectedness around the globe.  Despite my long-time friends from all over the continent of Africa, those who live with me in North America and those who are in Africa, I wonder if we truly can fathom ‘belonging’ to a global village?

Recently, I asked a group of brilliant children, about the similarities and differences of the two little girls in these pictures.

Northern Uganda

Western Canada

The children could quickly name the similarities: love of a mother close by, the serious eyes, and the similar age.  They also could see the differences in clothing, skin colour, and health.

Yet, I know both of these little girls, I’ve held both in my arms, and I wonder how they are connected.  Let’s muse together…

Deeply Loved

Both of these little girls are surrounded by love.  Their mothers, families, and villages offer them security and steadiness.  Like a fence around a home, the love of the community surrounds these girls.  And, dreams are real, despite the continent of your birth. A mother always dreams for her little one.

Surrounded by Possibility

Possibility, natural resources, and vibrant community surround these little girls.  If educated, both have the potential to change the world.  Both are interconnected by the future they hold for our global village.  Will they be swept up in violence, poverty, or depravity?  Or, will they cultivate compassion, charity, and kindness?  Will each of them have a better future?

Deserving of Goodness

However, the inequities of our global village hurt both of them.  So, thriving isn’t at the expense of one another because we are connected.  Just look at how much we have in common. In our hearts, we all want goodness for our children and must fight for this equity and possibility for all.

Krista Tippett, in her book Becoming Wise, reminds us of civil rights’ activist John Lewis’ musings,

What if the beloved community were already a reality, the true reality, and we simply had to embody it until everyone else could see it?

If we were living as if we were already a part of the beloved global web of true love, how would we behave?  What healing stories would help us embody this beloved community?  What would we provide for both of these little girls?  And, how would we manifest our belief that our future is interconnected?

I’m privileged to be on the font lines of investing in the education of both of these little girls.  I am fortunate to lead the organization, Niteo Africa, promoting literacy and global equity in East Africa.  What a joy to know little girls with intertwined lives!

May God bless you as you live out our connection and belonging!

For the sake of the children,

Karine Veldhoen