Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Ok, so I just learned about this today but it's something I've been wanting to address for quite awhile. I know it's a long post but I would appreciate you reading it in full...



From www.blogactionday.org:

"Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion."

This year bloggers worldwide will address the issue of poverty. This is my personal opinion and contribution:

I encounter a specific product of poverty every day while working at the community center in my neighborhood. Across the street from the center, groups of people huddle around the bus stop, growing and thinning out by the hour as each city bus comes and goes. Eventually, many of them will make their way toward the center, either passing it on their way elsewhere or stopping by for the restroom, a drink of water, or just to keep out of the elements awhile.

Some keep to themselves, quickly passing me at the front desk. Others have the courtesy to ask permission each and every time they come in, knowing it's absolutely fine. I appreciate the courtesy in saying 'good morning' before passing through.

Their are others who linger a little while, for better or for worse. There's the lady who tells the most expressive stories to whoever will listen, even if that's nobody. It causes a little discomfort when she begins to stare into the distance while talking directly to you, especially when she's complaining about the trash at the bus stop across the street that she expects you to do something about. Now.

There are far nicer characters as well. The women with the crutch and the bags and the food and the empty milk jugs. With an accent reminiscent of the Carribean she comes in saying, "Good morning. May I have some fresh water?" And as she leaves, "Thank you. You are a blessing." The real blessing comes when she gives us food, freshly prepared just outside under the canopy. You begin to question your own ideas of "blessing" when a homeless woman feeds you.

Now I don't know what your encounters with homelessness have been like. For some, homelessness can be downright scary. I've been on the buses late at night on Central Ave., uncertain about everyone's safety, including your own. But I've also been in the churches and the feeding centers, offering meals and conversation to those who need it desperately. Blessing others while being blessed.

But at work it's easy for me to lose sight of the bigger picture. At work I see shady characters with backpacks in places they shouldn't be. I receive complaints about recently stocked bathrooms suddenly without any toilet paper. I see people spend an entire day in and out of the center, wasting time. It's hard not to question whether they are even trying to find a job or a way to help themselves. I easily become disheartened and patience wears thin.

But that's the pitfall that scares me. I worry that I might lose my capacity for compassion. I fear that my ability to love others will diminish. And if I lose love, I lose everything because I believe in a God who wants to share his love through me. How great and humbling is that?

So my last word to you is this: Find it in yourself, through God, or by others, to increase your capacity for compassion.

 

1 comment:

Norm said...

Eric,

This indeed was an interesting blog. In our many conversations, we have not, to my recollection, talked about this issue. I know you, and you are my friend. I understand your sarcasm, but sometimes that sarcasm, I think, gets in the way of what you truly feel, or want to say. It is interesting to see this side of you. You seem to leave behind your cynicism and sarcasm when you write. You win, I will look at your blog more often, and leave comments. I truly did enjoy this read.