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“You’ve Seen Me in Town. . . .”

January 15, 2018

I received a comment to the previous post (and a somewhat related letter of mine about “Christine” to the editor of our local newspaper) shortly after it appeared, words that brought me to consider my own-what they said, what they implied, and where they come in contact with my credo “either you do it or you talk about it.” Christine had been a homeless person, whose long unidentified body had been found beside the highway in our small town.

“There are those of us in town,” my respondent said, “who don’t have the same problems Christine had, but have been living in fear for years, who have nowhere to turn who are afraid they could end up with a similar fate. When you wrote about seeing people with haunted eyes I wondered if you had seen me. . . .”

Perhaps I had.

“. . . and wondered if you could see in my eyes what I have been through.”

Perhaps I had not.

“People who live normal lives tend to either not understand or blame the person somehow for the situation they are in, or it is too awful to believe for most people to grasp. They think on some level the person deserves it, or that all families are loving and supportive and if not, it must be something of the person’s own doing—but they would be wrong in this assumption.”

I believe I have been.

“David there are people like me who need help who are terrified every single day, who spend so much time looking over our shoulder and looking for help and only being confronted by well-wishers who say they will ‘pray for you’ but offer no real help, even knowing how bad it is.” Such prayers are for the benefit of those who make them. Prayers are not, as my respondent says, real help.

“This is happening in your town, David, not very far from where you are.” Christine lived and died here ten years ago. This is happening today. In my town, in your town, wherever you happen to be reading this.

“I don’t even know if you, like everyone else, will wave your hand at me and shake your head and say’ that is terrible, we should be more kind to each other’. But some people aren’t kind. And some people are very scared, like me.”

What then is real help? When our own homes are filled, our own resources are limited, when we share what limited time and money we have freely, sowing it into the world wherever we feel it will do the most good, what then, when that is not enough?

When it only reaches some, but cannot reach all?

What do we do next?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 15, 2018 5:12 pm

    Given us a lot to think about.

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