Oh the Angry Humanitarian.
No one really intends to become one. You try to stay
friendly, educational, and open but eventually get to the point where you get
angry at the decisions and ignorance of the people around you.  Why can’t they understand? Why don’t they
change the way they act? Why don’t they care about the rest of the world?
The Building Dreams group on the last day of their trip!
While spending time with youth empowerment humanitarian
organization Live Different in the Dominican Republic we warn volunteers about
becoming the Angry Humanitarian. It’s possibly the most common reaction to your
surroundings when you head home after a completely life changing experience.
Our volunteers just spent 10 days in an impoverished different country, not
only building a house for a deserving family, but also really gaining
perspective on how a majority of the world lives. They put stories to
statistics and faces to nameless individuals whose lives are exposed in
articles on living conditions and struggles existing thousands of miles across
the globe.
How can your life not be changed after this kind of
On the last day of their trip our volunteers take part in
one final debriefing session. We have volunteers who have been on trips before
mention feelings they experienced when arriving home—most being anger, guilt
and frustration. This summer, our final debrief leader was a fun kiwi named
Kent and he always gave such a great description of the Angry Humanitarian to
the volunteers. Loosely quoted, it went something like this;
“The Angry Humanitarian is someone who is having dinner with
their family and gets mad because people are throwing out leftover food into
the garbage and are saying ‘that food could feed 10 starving children in
Africa’, but really, it couldn’t because that food is on your table in Canada
and not in Africa.”
We warn our volunteers that while this reaction is easy to
have, it’s not the most productive way to encourage your friends, family,
co-workers and acquaintances to live a life where focusing on positively
impacting those around you is a priority. As individuals who now have the
mantra “Life is about people, not stuff”, they need to take time to respond
instead of react to the circumstances around them.
I encourage everyone who has had a life changing experience
to evaluate how they react or respond to those around them. Are you keeping a
lighthearted tone and creating an educational conversation where you are
inspiring those around you to join you in a new lifestyle of positive change?
Or on the contrary, are you abruptly spitting out comments to make those you
are talking to feel bad about their lives? They don’t know what you know; they
don’t have the same experience ingrained in their hearts that completely
changed their lives. You cannot get mad at someone who doesn’t know—but you can
take every opportunity to educate.
Be the individual who educates well, shares passionately,
and lives inspirationally. Let your actions show you want to see poverty, slavery,
gendercide, denied education and other forms of injustice end. Be a great model
so when people hear about your experience and reasons why your life is changed,
they don’t want ignore the reality of how the world is functioning, but want to
join you in your new adventure.
Image from Pinterest.