I feel guilty sometimes, that I was in the Peace Corps, and I made it home. But I also was perhaps less passionate than they, less virtuous than they? We can never know completely, with survivors’ guilt, how hard the road they hoed was. One thing I can say is that the rural poverty I experienced in South America was not half so ugly as the urban poverty here. There were geraniums around the houses, and clean air and fresh water. There was enough food, although some vitamin deficiency. We were able to control dysentery by building letrines, and helping to build better wells. But the grinding despair of no place to put one’s head, and our urban scene, with addicts, alcoholics, derelicts, PTSD victims of every kind, prostitution, human trafficking and joblessness— the furtive despair, the hopelessness, that is a first world phenomenon. And now we have this terrible and ongoing refugee crisis, as there was in VietNam, and every war since— the internal displacement, and collateral damage. I am glad those women are being honored and remembered, and I think they had the heart to keep caring, and keep carrying on, all the things that need to be dealt with to make human life less miserable on the planet.
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