Most of us in the U.S. are tempted to think that we have control over our lives. Most of us have arranged things--or have had them arranged for us--in such a way that we do not confront acute need on a daily basis, and we generally expect that lights will go on when we flip a switch, paychecks will be deposited in bank accounts as scheduled, and that our lives will unfold in a generally predictable and pleasant fashion. When we confront some little problem, we often respond with great indignation.
Of course life everywhere is essentially chaotic. The lights may stay on in our homes, but people we care for die, jobs that seemed secure can disappear; life is much more unpredictable, even for middle-class Americans, than it seems.
But chaos is harder to ignore in Africa. It is very difficult to live in Ghana under the impression that all is right with the world, or that life is predictable or, for that matter, boring. Maybe that's why such a high proportion of the people Elizabeth and I met in Ghana are doing great things: it is very obvious both that great things need to be done, and that some people are going about doing them with great gusto and persistence.
So returning from Ghana, for me, always raises the question: If all is not right with the world, then why am I ignoring tragedies, at home and across the globe? What am I doing with my life, with the privileges of time and other resources that life has handed to me? And if people with far fewer resources are devoting themselves so fully, so happily, to sharing with and serving others, then what's stopping me from doing the same?