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Why the Land of Opportunity can be Dangerous

This past week, my book tour took me through Braeburn International School in Arusha, Tanzania. While I was there, I randomly started conversing with a man named Steve Ngugi, the head of boarding at the school. He taught me one important lesson that I think is a good reminder for all of us.

The lesson that Steve got across to me was how important it is to be a genuine human. For those of you who are unaware, Tanzania today is considered to be a developing country. Almost every single person you talk to there will tell you that his or her dream is to go to the United States of America and get rich. In general, a lot of people in Africa have set their end goals to make it to the United States of America.

Steve was also one of those people who once had a big vision of going to U.S. He even made it there. However, he hated it and quickly returned back to Tanzania. When I asked why, Steve told me that “going to the land of opportunity makes you forget how to be a genuine human.” He recalled how he went to a coffee shop in America, and the cashier didn’t even make any eye contact. The cashier just yelled “next!” and hastily grabbed Steve’s money.

People need to create connections with each other. Humanity should win. “Instead, people go to America, realize that they are just small fish in the vast sea, and then waste the rest of their lives working with a laser focus on making money so they can ultimately become bigger fish in the sea. What does that prove? Nothing.”

If you think about it, Steve is right. A person is not remembered by how much money he or she has. A person is remembered by the impact he or she leaves on the world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking advantage of opportunities, but remember that there are real problems out there around the planet. Be careful not to lose your identity and genuine human self by trying to become a big fish in the meaningless sea of money.

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