THE BLOG
10/29/2012 09:20 am ET | Updated Dec 29, 2012

The Riyadh I Used To Know

Sand particles dance in the light streaming from the sun that acts as Saudi Arabia's permanent heater. My bare feet burn on top of the scorching sand that has been Arab soil for generations, and I hastily slip my feet back into my shoes. Glancing upwards, I wonder, "Who painted the canvas of the sky so blue, with clouds so white?" Yum. They look like floating cotton candy. "Fly up here and eat me!" They beg. Of course, I cannot fly, but the clouds deviously beckon me toward them. There's also the thin desert trees with their seemingly lush green leaves swaying in the wind, mocking me. Their shadows are intriguing and curious, as if they can't decide which shape they should take. I breathe in the hot air, coated with layers of fine dust. Strangely, the highly allergy-dense atmosphere comforts me. This is the world in its natural state. The way it's meant to be.

I look around me again, and think, Oh no! What's going on? The soothing sand crumbles in a matter of seconds, leaving behind a hard, grainy substance, presumably buried sand. Strange machines toss lumber over the beautiful trees, destroying wildlife in their wake. A pathway is cleared for wet, black tar that instantly dries. Cars come and go, bottles tossed out of windows of cars zooming through the desert instead of camels, the bottles flying gracefully in the delicate breeze yet crowding the once-safe environment. Polluted toxins thicken the air from nearby factories, and buildings grow from the ground, crushing all around them in the process.

When I think of the Riyadh I knew when I first came to Saudi Arabia, and the Riyadh I see now, my goodbyes clog in my throat. It seems as if I have tears for the loss of the riches of the desert that were left behind after the modern city of Riyadh was born. I watched and could do nothing to stop beauty of the Arabian desert from vanishing before my eyes.

When I go home to the USA, though, the same thing seems to be happening. There are forests destroyed for homes and malls. Is the whole world replacing nature with man-made everything? If so, do you want to stop it?

After all, luxury is more accessible. At the same time, there is also more waste. There is enough food for the rich -- they have so much, they can throw four-fifths of it away and still have plenty to eat. Buildings are higher, houses are bigger and fancier, so people use more electricity and water. People who have all they need don't seem to think about what they have, or how hard it is to work for it, so laziness of mind has become the new lifestyle. Nobody seems to think about the poor. The poor are the people who don't have anything.

People die from polluted water. People die from hunger. People die from diseases. People die from no sanitation. People kill each other over food and water. What is man doing to himself? Is this beneficial, or will the outcome be as bad as what movies show?

You are one in 7.74 billion and counting. It's by chance that you are you able to read this on a computer, with access to electricity and hopefully in a home that has food and water. It's an accident of fate that you are in a place that can afford to give you a computer, electricity, food and water. Someone built their way into luxury, so you could have it now. It's hard to think that for most of the world, food, water and electricity is luxury. It's true, though. Having all that is part capability and part luck. You could have been born in the slums, not under a roof! It's not the poor's fault that they were born into poverty. Some kid's dream is for a meal that day. What's your dream?

Before you answer that, or even think it, think of those who don't have as much as you do, or even have nothing. How can we help? Does it even make a difference for just one of us to do something? Of course it does, because each of us can have responsibility for our own actions. STOP letting useless amounts of water flow from your sink while brushing your teeth. How many starving kids would kill for just one of those precious drops of water you just wasted? STOP leaving lights on unnecessarily. Put together all the wasted energy and light, and it could power a whole city. STOP taking hour-long showers, even though all the time you need is five minutes. How many men and women's lives were at stake because they couldn't access any of it? STOP throwing food you simply don't like away. Can you think of the amount of people who consider a bug a full meal? That is only the beginning. There are endless amounts of horrors mankind has created without realizing. You know what? This generation can stop it. HELP by STOPPING all those things.

If every person in the world contributed to these thoughts and ideas, picture the effect it would have overall. More water. More food. More peace. We would make a difference. No, we wouldn't simply go back to the perfect desert picture. Damage has been done, and we have left our scar on the world. Scars can heal. Of course, the mark would always stay to remind us, but the pain would be less. Everyone can make a difference, especially you!