Sunday, October 24, 2010
"I Will Be The Change I Want To See In The World."
Press play here for music for this post.
"I've been tossing in my sleep,
plagued by the things I've seen.
I see grown men in the streets,
begging for food to eat.
I see a young mom in the church,
shunned because her baby has no father.
I see a war on the TV,
that leaves orphans in the streets.
And I think to myself,
what a world we live in.
Where people use God's name,
to expand their empires
They say its just the way it is
That I should just learn to accept it
Well I beg to differ man
I won't give in"
-New Empires- Take It Back!
Today I found myself nose deep into another book at Panera bread co. The book of choice this week, "Haunted" by Chuck Palahniuk. I sat there reading my book, while sarah sat across from me doing homework. The book is a brilliantly crafted book that is a collection of 23 short stories, but they are cleverly put into a novel, if that makes any sense. Its not just story after story, they are all connected by a story that connects and continues all the stories together. Anyway, the story I was reading about tonight at Panera bread was on a rich couple who decides to drop all their balls and caviar gatherings to become homeless after finding that some of their social friends have taken up, "Social Diving." "Poverty, Inky says, is the new wealth. Anonymity is the new fame" a character proclaims in the book. She argues that, "When everyone can afford the best, the truth is, it does look a little--Common." So this rich couple and their socialite friends decide to spend their weeknights in the streets rumaging through garbage and risking the streets with drug lords and dealers, instead of inhabiting benefits with the rest of rich corporate America aka their colleagues. Chuck Palahniuk loves paradoxes. He's very vocal about it and you can see it in almost everything he has written. He thrives on the paradox. I got the paradox, and I found it funny, that when the world starts to prosper and the rich see that their throne is becoming common grounds they result to the lives of homeless people, but the humor of the story was not what drove me to the keyboard. Through the vivid descriptions of the homeless and their lives, my mind was flooded with memories of the past few months. And I realized, Homeless people has been one thing that has been on my mind very often over the past few weeks... And the results of my thoughts bother me. They shake me at my core... But lets start at the beginning.
When I first moved to Florida, one of the first things I noticed was the amount of Homeless people. I would drive down Nebraska at least once if not twice a week and just sit and watch all the homeless people man their street corners holding their signs, selling their papers, or selling their water. I was amazed to see that the same people would be seen at the same location each week. I wish I could have given them some money but I couldn't. Being that I just moved here, I did not have any cash to spare at all. My gas tank had been filled by the family I live with, I was bone dry. But I would watch as they walk up to cars holding their buckets and would get nothing. One man in particular that I remember would walk up to every car, try and make eye contact and hold up his bucket, but most times to no avail. Most times he didn't even get the eye contact. That broke my heart and still continues to disintegrate my heart ever so slowly.
The other day I was driving with my boss in his truck and we were on a long haul, driving from Clearwater to Brandon. Probably a little over an hour drive. But at the beginning of our drive, I looked over and saw a man standing on a corner holding up a sign that read, "War veteran, need any help you can give." He walked up to our truck and everyone who was at the stoplight. I looked at him and shook my head when he showed me the sign. But of course I smiled at him. But I then looked over at the people's reaction to the man. Most didn't look at him. They carried on their conversations in their cars, to avoid the man asking for change. I saw one woman start to get very scared and she rolled up her window and then sped off. I couldn't help but just feel so wronged for that man...
I looked over at my boss and said, "This is by the far the weirdest interaction between humans." He agreed with me. And we sat discussing it for a good while...
Its so bizarre because I can see it through the eyes of both sides.
I understand why the people try to move their eyes away from the homeless man. I understand why they block him from their sights. They don't want to have to deal with this man. They want to be able to go on with their life without having to toss money to a man who will probably spend your hard earned money on beer and cigarettes and be out here the next day.
But at the same time, I see the truth of the matter. These people begging for change... They're people.
They are no different than you and I.
Just like you and I.
But yet we allow cynicism to enter our lives way too easy.
We allow for the world to consume these... "failures."
"They put themselves in the streets because of their mistakes, why should I help him? He put himself there."
"He's got what he deserved."
These are common things that I think you would hear from people if people were brave enough to actually speak what they truly think about homeless people. And that makes me angry. That stirs a rage in my chest.
"This has to end right now.
No longer can we wait for things to all work out.
Just open up your eyes,
and look past your front door.
Your sisters in the streets and your brothers at war,
compassion has been lost,
in a nation built by greed.
But we could be a generation that is truly free.
No longer will we answer,
to a king who wears a crown,
But a king who ruled through peace.
Then laid his life down...
Rise up true sons of zion.
I Will Be the Change I Want to See, in the World"
- New Empires, Take it Back!
How can we all be so blind as to not realize that which is staring us in the eye.... more or less that which is TRYING to stare us in the eye?
How can we just overlook his stare?
How can we pass the man who is clearly freezing in his cardboard box at night, and just move on?
How can we write anyone off as... Not worthy?
Not worthy of.... heat.... compassion.... love..... life.
How dare we.
How dare we decline any man, homeless or not, that. How dare we feel inclined to deny anyone at least the common decency of eye contact....
I am ashamed.
The thing that I think we don't realize or want to realize is that, out there in that street, that's a real human being. Thats not just some cracked out loser whose getting whats coming to him...
As Pastor Mark Q might say.... Lets put some skin on him.
That man, who is shivering on the side of the road as you drive by with your heater on full blast in your car, he is a man.
He is son.
He has warm blood running through his veins, for the time being.
He has a heart that is capable of love.
He has a stomach that rumbles with hunger.
He has dad somewhere in the world he secretly still want to make proud.
He has a family somewhere out there in the world who doesn't care where he is...
He is a human...
He is a human being!
He is skin and bone just like you and I!
I can not help but sit here feeling so... guilty, I guess is the word....
As a man sleeps outside in the heat, sweating and praying that God will allow wind to pass through to cool the night air and help him go to sleep; as he prays, I am here. I am here writing a blog with my long sleeve shirt on because my air conditioner is working so well...
"From the window of my middle class home,
I watch a man as he sits alone.
In the dirty streets,
the cardboard under his feet.
Screams about all his cold nights spent alone.
People pass but no one seems to notice,
his empty hands, hollow eyes, broken soul.
And his need need need for just one person to care."
-Hollow Eyes, Take it Back!
I don't understand how we can pass another person standing in the street and not relate to that person? I don't know how people can not ask themselves... what if that was me?
When you see someone begging for change.
Someone living in a dumpster, or roadside, what do you think?
Do you ask yourself... What if that was me?
Because I would bet my all that some of you have not ever thought that. Some of you have passed by this "nuisance" that stands on the corner of Nebraska and Waters Ave. Or the corner of Church and 8th, you pass them and think nothing of it.
But put yourself in that situation...
You're standing on the side of the road trying to gather enough change to eat your next meal, yet you are invisible. You are not on the same level as these supreme beings in their automobiles...
They won't even look you in the eye.
They won't be compassionate enough to shake their heads and speak to you about how they can't help.
Imagine. Imagine the life of an outcast...
"So which of these words will brings him comfort?
Cause it's sympathy not empathy I feel,
As I sit and watch from my suburban castle."
-Hollow Eyes, Take it Back!
I feel sick to my stomach at the thoughts that pass through their minds every day.
I feel sick at the thought of all the menial mediocre bullcrap I allow to bring me and my little world down, when there is men and women and children who are dying in the streets every day... That brings tears to my eyes.
How can I ever complain?
How blessed am I?
How fortunate am I that I find myself freezing in my suburban castle?
How wrong of me to ever pass any of these people and not at least cast a smile their direction. How wrong of me!
They are people too. They are no nuisance. They are flesh and blood.
So all of this builds up to one last thing....
And I believe Take it Back! says it way better than I could ever say it,
"And now I realize,
That all of this means nothing without action.
I will not just sing.
I refuse to just sing songs about how hard life can be,
while others lead lives that are more difficult than I can imagine.
I will be a source of light in this dark world.
A catalyst in this stagnant generation.
I will use love to overcome this world."
"And now I realize that all of this means nothing without action..." That phrase alone sends goosebumps up and down my whole body.
We live in a time where we are comfortable.
We are so damn comfortable in our christianity.
We go to our hip new churches. We shop at "our" lifeway christian stores. We listen to "our" christian music.
We don't act.
We are comfortable watching the world go by...
We are comfortable watching others fall away...
But who cares? right? We're ok. -oh wait, sorry I can't say that out loud, its only what so many people in the world/christianity think.
The thing that I notice in my life, and in so many others around me is exactly what Take it Back said,
"All of this means nothing without action."
I lack action. But I realize it now. And I long for it!
So what are you going to do?
How will you act?
Will you continue your life in your bubble?
Will you burst the bubble and look outside at the world that is happening all around you?
I've got to warn you, its a dark world out there when you finally look beyond your nose.
But the God that I believe in...
The Son that I choose to believe in...
The things He said, the way He acted towards these people...
These outcasts, was much different than the way I have witnessed in my life.
I know that in my life I'm having to make a decision. I will no longer stand for apathy in my life. I will no longer sit by in my car and allow myself to let a man pass me by without him seeing that I do care. I do care about the people in this world. I do care...
"I Will Use Love to Overcome This Dark World."
-Take It Back!
I pray that I can use that exact statement in my own life. I pray that I can allow myself to break through all of my insecurities, all of my fears, all of faults to do this. Not only to the homeless but to the world that surrounds me. I feel at times as if I allow myself to find that place that works best for me, and I stick with that. But thats not what God wants, or at least I believe that to be truth in my life. I don't think that He would give me such passions, such love and endearment for no reason at all. I don't think He would speak about love so often in His book that He left all of us, for us to pass the ones He created on the side of the road!
So heres my challenge if you have made it this far:
Always remember when you see that man who is standing at the side of the road, asking for change, remember he is a man.
Remember you're Father above.
Realize that the man on the side of the road could be you...
Think of how you would want to be treated and act on that.
Now know that I'm not saying that after I hit publish this post that I am going to go start a homeless shelter tomorrow. What I am saying is that I am taking a stand against Apathy in my life, and I challenge you to do the same. God did not put us on this earth to be consumed in ourselves. Realize the world around you.
And I pray that we all,
"Use Love to Overcome This Dark World."
-Hollow Eyes, Take it Back!
And let us all put an end to our ever growing, never ceasing... apathy.
Let us all not just speak of the change that we long for in our world,
But let us take on the challenge.
I end with Take it Back!'s challenge that I am going to strive my hardest to live out, and I challenge you to do so as well.
"I Will Be The Change I Want To See in The World."
- New Empires, Take it Back!
Media Associated With This Post:
Due to the fact that I spent hours trying to get Take it Back up online for the song to work on my profile, I gave up and used a youtube link. So I did tried very hard to get Take It Back to play automatically and failed. Sorry.
Song: Hollow Eyes
Artist: Take It Back!
Many song quotes are brilliantly and boldly written by: Take it Back!
All photos taken from Google and Chris Simms.