The Forgotten Children

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

Hmm. I apologize. My last entry was a little…self-centred? Of course, I’m not sure who I’m apologizing to since it seems like no one really reads this except me (oh well, at least I get to vent without annoying anyone then), but nevertheless, I’m apologizing for what I said earlier today. I realize I have a tendency to complain over little things; then again, understand that most of the time I’m pretty light-hearted about things, and I’ll make a comment to someone that I think is just funny and they take it as a complaint. And I’m not taking back the fact that today was not a good day in my opinion. Then again, all days are good I suppose; it just depends whether you see it that way or not.

So why the change of heart? I was bored so I started reading random blogs that you get by clicking the button in the top right corner that says “Next Blog.” I came across this entry by someone on their blog entitled “On being miserable” – read it over, and maybe it’ll hit you as deeply as it hit me. I’m not quite sure why it had the effect that it did – I’ve read stuff like this before and not even given it a second thought. But today it was different.

At the end of last year, we had a class trip (with grades 11 and 12) to the Royal Ontario Museum. Yay. That was exciting (note use of dripping sarcasm to achieve dry humour). But afterwards we had a chance to go down to a homeless shelter sort of thing. I forget what it was called; I had expected that part of the day to be a drag, since afterwards we were heading to a Jays game which I always seem to get really hyper for even though they’re always boring anyways. But I was wrong – this shelter thing was the best part of the day now that I think back on it. Sure, it wasn’t exciting. We just sat in a circle and the leader of the place talked about what they do. We would have done something except they only offer services on certain days. So we learned what their thinking behind this shelter was, and it hit me really deeply.

This guy told us how they treated the homeless as people – a novel concept to many. Sure we’d like to think we treat all people equally, but do we really? This shelter allows for homeless people to give back to the community, rather than just get a meal and a place to sleep for the night. Their basic foundation was that all people are equal, made in the image of God. All humans also have a need to be needed, a feeling that they have something to contribute to a community. Most shelters say “Here’s your food, now get out because you stink.” This shelter says, “Here, come on in and help us make your food and then you can serve it to the others. As a reward you can have the feeling of finally being raised back to the level of having basic human dignity, as well as a meal.” They offer musical concerts for those who are musically inclined, as well as woodworking shops, etc. These people are shown that they have something to offer to someone else – that someone else wants and needs them just as much as they want and need others. Most of the homeless have been so consistently trampled underfoot by modern society and your average middle-class person that they have no hope anymore.

So what right do I have to complain? What right do I have to say that I had a bad day, when my version of a bad day involves a headache, sore throat, getting up early, and someone letting me down? Some people sit on the sidewalk every day trying to scrounge what little they can from those who have so much. They never know whether they’ll have a meal that day, or how much they’ll be able to make from the few that are generous and kind enough to give out of their abundance. How can I then say, sitting in my comfortable chair in my warm home, that I had a bad day? There is no excuse to this except to say that I am selfish.

On that day that my class visited that shelter, the truth of what they were saying hit me. I’ve had a dream since then, which sometimes fades out of view because of my self-centeredness, and which has come back to me ever so strongly today. I want to get a home in Toronto, or somewhere else where you can’t walk more than 5 city blocks without seeing a homeless person. I want to have a decent income, nothing extravagant, and I want to, instead of wasting that on pathetic material possessions, use it to impact someone’s life. I can see my future self someday, in a nice suit and tie, sitting down on the dirty ground beside a beggar on the street and just talking with them. Years of callousness and bitterness surround them. And yet, on the inside, is a beating heart which can still be harnessed for great potential. I want to invite the beggar to a coffee shop to sit and talk. I just want to help in any way I can to help them and others around them realize that person’s potential, no matter whether it takes days, months, or years. I don’t care if I’m the only one doing it, and I don’t care if I have to do it one person at a time. I want to do it so badly, because unlike most of the things I do, this one is selfless. This one is giving up my own money, time, and respect for someone else to gain back theirs. I can’t get this image out of my mind.

And so for now, until that dream comes to life, I will be trying my hardest to keep from complaining about the stupid little obstacles which seem to prevent me from loving everyone around me. I want to get past my own pointless, selfish desires and see into the heart of someone else. I want to love them for who they really are: a child of God.

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