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And so, I became a suit. I spent a lot of time staring

at a computer screen, trying to change the world. At other times, I sat around with other suits and talked in closed rooms about how the world needed to be fixed. Over time, I talked with more suits and went to more meetings. I saw a lot of money spent, some of it on me, with varying levels of results. I watched priorities change with changes in

politicians and high-paid officials. I visited a number of grant recipients in villages in so-called “developing” countries. All were appreciative of a visit from a

that it shouldn’t be up to any of us Westerners to develop the solutions. At a meeting back at headquarters, I bemoaned

aloud that the impoverished people who we were discussing weren’t at our discussion table. My fellow suits looked at me as if I had three heads. It was then that I realized that my still-developing worldview was veering further and further from the norm. I threw off my suit and headed south, where I

thought I would lead a real life on the ground, get real experience and find real answers. Well, the experience

supposedly elite foreigner such as myself. I became conscious that, to some extent, I held the purse strings. And that the people in those villages were far more aware of the reality of the local situation and their needs than I could ever be. Yet, the people who decided what their country “needed,” my superiors, had probably never even visited those villages, let alone lived in one. Something about the whole situation made me feel sick.

Not long before, I had been lording over my compatriots, thinking that I knew what was wrong in the world and what was needed to fix it. Now, I felt I hardly knew anything at all—and that the decision makers potentially knew even less. It dawned on me

was real—a reality check, in fact. I was living in South Africa, a country still very much dealing with the legacy of apartheid. Instead of answers, though, I came up with more questions and a healthy dose of confusion. My monthly rent in a university neighbourhood was twice the monthly salary of one of my friends who worked at the university. The inequities of the world seemed inescapable. My intentions have always been noble. How

could I ever restore balance in such an imbalanced world? Where were the answers? Over time, and with experience, I’ve learned that they may be within ourselves.

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