Posted by: endithinks | July 14, 2009

On a deeping rift

The last few months I’ve been thumped in the chest.  A deep pressure pushes up whenever I am walking down the street and I see someone who is holding a sign and begging for change.

I’ve always  given whenever I have had money in my pocket.  I usually will supplement that with some food if there is anything around, but lately it has taken root in my mind that this is something that none of us should tolerate.

I’m talking about the rate of homelessness in the United States and how so many of us never even stop to think “what if?”  I’m talking about how so many of us can coldly walk by a fellow person and ignore that they exist.  I’m talking about treating each other cruelly, the cruelty of ignoring.

Ignoring someone is the ultimate damage we can do to someone.  It is as if we don’t even want to acknowledge their existence and we are ashamed of our own capacity to end up in that same situation.  No one on the street thought it would happen to them and the miniature pleasures they can feel while high or drunk is nothing compared to the deep seeded darkness that surrounds their hearts.

I walk by them nearly every day and I see them asleep and drowning their own self loathing in the respite of unconsciousness hoping that they never wake up.  I’ve seen the looks in their eyes that would turn a heart to stone.  I’ve seen the depth of despair.

What can we do about it?  That is a question people ask me all the time.  They say that they are only one person who can only do so much.  I say it only takes one person to make someone stand up and realize that they are valuable and necessary.  We all matter and the fact that any of us are even here is mathematically impossible.

It is starting to tear at me every time I see another join the ranks of the forgotten and it makes me yearn for justice.  It makes me cringe when I see myself buying a new shirt for twenty dollars when that could be the difference between shelter and the cold for someone for the next two days yet I pull out the Visa and scratch away another piece of self respect.

I see people battering away at their own hearts denying the natural concern we feel for each other.  I see people holding back and flinging their arm around their food bowl, hackles raised and growling.

I see blame replacing compassion and blind compassion replacing lifting people up.  I see throwing a man a fish instead of giving him a pole.  It is as if we choose between two ways of interacting with those who need help.  We chuck a quick quarter their way and head down bowl our way through the crowds, or we give them the help they need in a manner that keeps them needing us.

Sometimes the way to help someone the best is to get out of their way.  Sometimes that person that we’ve gotten clean and gotten job training will no longer need us.  That should be our purpose if we choose to help.  Any philanthropic organization should be planning to do such a good job it goes bankrupt.  Sustainable non profits should be an oxymoron.


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