Wednesday, February 13, 2008

When there is a problem in the world ...

I found this image last week as I was beginning my new work adventure ... It struck me then, as now as an ICONIC visual of what homelessness in Canada can truly mean ...

The mean streets are down right vicious when it is in the minus temps, the snow is falling and the wind is howling ... and yet for thousands of people across this nation, this is the simple reality they find themselves having to endure ... We need to stop asking "WHY?" ... and embrace fully the notion of Housing First, in our collective efforts to address not just homelessness, but also hunger, poverty, and the housing crises that are gripping our nation ...

As I've considered this image, and shared it with those I am working with I keep recalling the words of Palestinian Melikite Priest Father Elias Chacour, who in his book Blood Brothers, shared the following story:

My mentor shared the story; "... if there is a problem somewhere , this is whathappens. Three people will try to do something concrete to settle the issue. Ten people will give a lecture analyzing what the three are doing. One hundred people will commend or codemn the ten for their lecture. One thousand people will argue about the problem. And ONE PERSON - ONLY ONE - will involve himself so deeply in the true solution that he will be too busy to listen to any of it ... NOW," he asked gently, his penetrating eyes meeting each of ours in turn, "which person are you?"

It remains a question that haunts me ... which person shall I be ???

Which person are you ???

2 comments:

Jaydee said...

This reminds me of an experience I had while living in Calgary a couple years ago.. I may have told you, I'm not sure.. One day there was a knock at my door, on the other side was a rather haggard looking man, who took his hat off and held it at his side, and introduced himself as Harold. He came straight out and told me he was homeless, and that as a means to bring himself some income and thus be able to eat, he collected recyclables to take to the depot for cash. He continued by asking if I had any to give him, I did, and then I told him to come back each week and I would save all of my recyclables for him. The smile on his face was huge, he thanked me several times and then left. He continued to come week after week, each time ringing the doorbell and standing two steps back when I answered. Each time I would greet him, he would take his hat off and hold it at his side. I would say "hi Harold, how are you"? He would answer "just fine maam, how are you"? It took many weeks before I could convince him to call me by my first name, as he had so graciously allowed me to call him by his. After awhile, I used to greet him at the door with the bag of cans, and a bag of cookies, or snacks... He was always so reluctant to take the extras. A couple weeks went by and Harold didn't come around. I was literally sick with worry, I had come to know a bit of the life he was unfortunate enough to be living. Then one day, the doorbell rang, and I raced to answer it. It was Harold, hat in hand, and a big blue binder in the other. "Look at this.." he said. He opened up the binder and proceeded to show me pages of newspaper clippings and articles, and some of them included photos of him. He told me how there had been some reporters doing stories on the homeless and following them around on their daily trips, and they had made him one of their feature stories. He was so excited and proud. Not proud that he was homeless, but that someone took the time to talk to him, to find out how he had come to the place he was at in life. Someone had showed an interest, a concern and a genuine care in him as a person who had the same dreams and aspirations as so many others.. He was thrilled that someone had noticed him and looked past the stereotypes. Harold was quoted in the article as he explained that he wasn't looking for handouts or a free ride. He wasn't lazy, he wasn't a bum.. He survived through unfortunate circumstances and was climbing his way out. His recycling money allowed him to eat, the miles he walk pushing the cart of recycling each day, pushed him forward to doing better for himself. He was determined to get back to some sort of normalcy, a life not spent sleeping in the shelters and streets. That day, Harold told me that because of his good luck with the reporters, someone had offered him a part time job, and he didn't have to do the recycling anymore. So he came to me that day to share all of his wonderful news, and to tell me that I wouldn't be seeing him around anymore.. And I honestly felt at that moment, that his gain, was my loss. I have never forgotten Harold, or the impact he made on my life, and the appreciation he gave me for the life I have.

MY OWN WOMAN... said...

Jaydee~ Your response brought me to tears. I believe you were truly touched by an angel.

Mr. Prairie Preacher Man: I want to be a doer, and I believe myself to be a doer but feel less than adequate when I can't "do it all." My husband and I discussed my "plight" and we agreed that most of our support would go to the local mission who feeds the hungry, gives clothes to the needy, furnishes houses for those less fortunate, and gives the homeless a warm place to sleep. The people who work at the mission are tiredless. I have never as much as lifted a bag from my car without someone running over to help me.

The final "warm fuzzy" I felt that made me know that I was doing what was right for me is when I saw the Pastor of the Mission bring a homeless man to our ER and have him treated for an illness. He paid for the medical care out of his pocket.

I guess, if the truth be told, then I am one of those that stands on the sidelines because I don't give enough time to those who are in need.