For those of you who are not aware, today is Blog Action Day and this year’s topic is Poverty. I thought it would be appropriate to share my own story as it relates to the topic at hand…it’s only right, considering this is a blog and last time I checked, personal revelations were allowed, lol…
When I was attending St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virginia, I was what some considered the model student. I made good grades, got along with my fellow classmates, was involved in lots of activities—well mannered, polite, everything looked “fine” from the outside…but during my sophomore year, financially, things got a bit tough. (I was already a scholarship kid, so for things to get worst than that, good grief).
My mother and I were only homeless for about six months, but homeless is homeless, whether it lasts for two days or two years. Being without shelter is one of the most inexplicable feelings…it transcends description. We were lucky though, we only lived out of the car occasionally, most of the time we hopped from hotel to hotel. I won’t go into the details as to what left us without a place to live, but what I will say is that circumstances don’t matter. When I see a homeless man on the street asking for money, I don’t care if he is an alcoholic, a hustler, whatever…that is not for me to make that determination or estimation of whether or not he is trying to hustle me for my hard earned cash. The truth of the matter is that man is no better or worse that I am. He is a child of God and deserves to be treated with respect and the benefit of the doubt. If he is lying to me, then that’s on his conscience—mine is clear.
I know what is like to struggle, I know what it is like not to have. I was blessed with a mother who taught me that material riches do not define your character or your worth as a person. Thank God for that, but what about those who see the world through different eyes who are always asking “why”…why do people need help, they should pull themselves up by the bootstraps….why do we need this or that government program, I’m sure the wealth will trickle down from the top…why are we still concerned with race and gender issue in the new millennium…the list goes on. And the answer is simple, those who ask why have never been in the situation. It’s easy to say you understand, it is easy to try to empathize…but until that experience hits home, all you can do it wonder.
I am thankful for my experiences; it makes me more sympathetic to the plight of my fellow man--all across the world. Although we all have moments when we judge each other unfairly, I can honestly say that my life is proof that you can never tell a book by its cover…and that making assumptions without hearing the whole story, can be deadly mistakes…you never know when the tables will be turned. So if you are so moved, please check out the following link to learn more about making change and broadening your horizons:
88 Ways to DO Something Now About Poverty