When you’re sitting on a beach cooling off with a cold beverage in hand, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for someone living in an igloo.
When you’re out mowing your lawn, the world of hurt being ravaged on another part of the country by wildfire might escape you.
When you’re in a remote rural community, going about your business, it’s hard to imagine morgue workers stacking bodies in refrigerated trucks in New York City.
Some painfully know the devastating impact of CoVid. Others painfully deny that it’s real, claiming it’s a government plot. Most of us sit somewhere in-between, immobilized, fearful.
For those commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus, the story of doubting Thomas offers a clear message about seeing and believing.
We have a hard time relating to the troubles, or happiness, of others in far off places. And that is why we depend on media, social and the old-fashioned kind, to help connect us. It’s not the same, but it helps when we see people engaged in activities that would otherwise be missed. With a bit of open-mindedness, and a dab of compassion, we can at least begin to feel the pain or joy of others and maybe use that to motivate us to do something to help someone.
That’s why it’s important to choose your brainfood wisely. Myriad choices of news, entertainment, and countless other topics clamor for our time. I found this essay, by Michelle Urra, with a heap of worthwhile thought, including:
NEVER IN MY LIFE have I been so brutally aware of interdependence. I imagine I’m not alone in this. All day I think about my body in relation to other bodies. Everything is a calculation of intersection nowadays. The delivery box I touch has been touched by the mail carrier. By a worker at the warehouse. By anybody they’ve touched. Every subway pole is marked by the ghosts of hundreds, thousands, of hands. The stranger whose hand my husband shook at a wedding in Providence weeks ago has intersected with the dog walker of my coworker’s neighbor. We are all suddenly sleeper cells. Nobody is impervious. Nobody can buy their way out of it. (Though certainly those without resources will suffer more.) We are all in an elaborate, complicated ballet with everyone else, and the only thing more astonishing than this new reality is that it isn’t new at all. Only our awareness of it is.
Realities like homelessness and poverty remain remote to some, real to others. Just because we don’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. My 3 decades working with families and individuals experiencing homelessness, most recently in my HEAR US venture, convinces me that millions exist in this nomadic state, many unseen.
One “good” thing about CoVid is the focus on homelessness. Now we can’t deny that millions are out here trying to survive on next to nothing, or less.
- Those unseen “house”holds stuck in motels, about to be evicted because they lost their meager jobs and can’t pay their exorbitant room rates, might be getting help. Or evicted.
- Shelters transplanting their vulnerable families and others to motels gives us a sense that this population is more significant than we imagined.
- Occupants of the ubiquitous tent cities are even getting help. Or getting swept away still.
- The hungry are being fed. Or not, depending on where they live and their ability to wait for whatever the food bank might have, like these 10,000 drivers did in San Antonio the other day in a record-breaking distribution at a South Side flea market.
- Jails are mercifully releasing prisoners. To homelessness?
“Because if their family isn’t there, usually they’re going to a halfway house,” Stefanski said. “And then if that’s not happening, then they go into homeless shelters, and if that is not happening, then they’re out there just going completely homeless.” (ABC News, 4/10/20)
I can’t make sense out of what the world is doing as a result of this upheaval. I can’t even come to an understanding of what I’m doing other than trying to enkindle the flame of compassion in my heart and maybe in the hearts of others.
But I know eyes have been opened. What we do with what we’ve seen will be the measure of our humanity. For all who think in religious terms, John 20:29 lays down the gauntlet.