Graham’s book (now being translated into French) is not heavily laden with statistics and high-brow jargon about wealth and poverty, development and underdevelopment. One meets in the pages of his book real persons with names, addresses and life stories—stunning, sad, amazing, heartbreaking—to share. In their company he saw, as if for the first time, his own life in a different context.
One might ask if Graham is not perhaps romanticizing the poor, they who have lived lives mired in vice, violence, criminality and hate. Where is the “genius” he is talking about?
Graham quotes Emong of Bagong Silang: “Even if you’re a drug addict or criminal like I was, you can change in a minute if you realize that you can help others. We need to give people a chance to help others and do good. As soon as you realize that others care about you, you gradually begin to care about them, too. This is the basis for change.”
Graham reflects: “Genius, I have discovered, lies not just in individual brilliance in some area of human activity, but in a supremely positive, humane attitude to life, to its ups and downs, to its unfairness and opportunities, and above all, to other people—family, neighbor, stranger. In this respect I have glimpsed genius in the impoverished… And in the process I have been taught, not how to pass an exam or appear intelligent, but simply how to live a more authentic human life.”