Wednesday, May 3, 2017
The Homeless in D.C.
Often times there are situations or images that catch my eye and the contradictions stand out.
It could be nurses that smoke outside of a hospital, it could be something like teachers when I was a kid and I saw them (gasp) outside of the classroom, or it could be a baby crying in my high school.
The picture I have included is from the Internet and not one I took because I find it hard as a tourist to photograph someone living on the streets.
In D.C., security has kept the homeless away from many of the tourist spots because who really wants "these people" to ruin our vacation (sigh), but once you get outside of that area, you will find more than you fair share of people who for some reason or another live on the streets.
There are many moral questions that arise about helping such people and in that case I always think of Matthew 25, but this part specifically in 25:37-40:
Then these righteous ones will reply, "Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?"
And the King will say, "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!"
I realize that in ever increasing amount of times that I am "helping" someone who does not need the money. In D.C. I ran across a few homeless people who refused food, I saw one woman who had done her makeup, yet living on the street (I shouldn't judge here, but it was odd to see a homeless person with perfect makeup), and I saw people who wanted $1 or $2 just to get home, were given more than that and still kept asking for more money.
I realize that I will be taken advantage of, but I feel that I should help because of the above scripture, (I mean what if Jesus really is one of these and I look the other way?), and because I have been given so much and blessed beyond measure.
Should I not give something back?
Should I not attempt to help someone who has had much different life experiences both bad and good, and have at some point reached the realization that this is all that they can do?
When told by someone that they never give to those in "need" because they know so many are scamming us, my response is that whether I give or not is between me and God and what they do with the money and whether they really need it or not is between them and God.
It is not my job to judge them.
It is my pleasure to try and help them.
But back to the picture.
How odd is it that in a city of millionaire outsiders that there are so many struggling in some way?
How odd is it that in the city that is to solve the problems of our country, they can't solve the problems of their own city?
How odd is that a government that is trillions of dollars in debt, those government workers continue to live lavish lifestyles (relatively speaking) and people who just have nothing live day to day?
How odd is that in a city that represents American Idealism there is image after image of where we have failed?
And how dare I who lives in a place where there is no visible homeless on a day to day basis seem to have all the answers?
I don't, but I know as I have grown in my faith that I see how bad many people have it and I want to do a little bit to help.
It won't be enough, but it will be for that day...that moment.
And even in my hypocrisy where I waste too much and could help so much more, I won't look away from the problems of the world.
And even when I feel that I am drowning in quicksand in trying to help, I will not stop trying to make a difference.
I pray for our hearts to not only be broken, but to do something about that broken heart.