Saturday, August 3, 2013

Guest Review: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder

Welcome to guest reviewer, Boomer!

Food, not having enough food, and how half of the world lives on less than $2/day have been hot topics in our household over the last several weeks. Boomer has been reading books about what we can do to make a difference, and I asked him to write a guest post about the last book that he read.

From Boomer:
This book is about a tireless American medical prodigy named Dr. Paul Farmer and his work to bring medical care to the poorest people in the world.  Delving both into his extensive medical care giving in the central plateau of Haiti, the book also delves into his global impact through the World Health Organizations in places like Peru and Russia.  Most significantly though, the book repeatedly delves into Farmer's worldview that medical care is a human right, and citizens of first world countries have a moral obligation to provide it to those that need it most.  There's basically two key points to the book:
1.) We (as first world citizens) owe it to the people living in destitution and extreme poverty to help them.  You probably don't know exactly how, but the comfort you enjoy is in some way derived from having screwed them.

2.) Don't give up or make excuses about how it's a big problem or how you have scant resources/talents.  Look at what one person (Dr. Farmer) can accomplish.  While you don't have to do what he did (which is really quite remarkable), the work needs to be done one way or another.
The book is inspiring and thought provoking about injustice and how looking at the bigger picture is sometimes less productive than just getting up and taking action (no matter how small).

I've taken an interest in the related subject of world hunger recently, and while I do want to contribute to the solution, I was glad to find an absence of guilt trips or over-the-top calls to join the Peace Corps.  I appreciated an anecdote about when Farmer's primary financial backer expressed a desire to leave his high income job and go work with Farmer in Haiti.  Farmer's response was, "For you, that would be a sin."  It was nice to hear that while we are all called to take action, each action has to come out of who we are and there's room for that to look different.

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