Living the questions and trying to think theologically... and practically. Learning that these things are more synonymous than I once thought.

Location: Dallas, TX

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A Very Disheartening Conversation

Yesterday, I had one of the most disturbing conversations during my time here in Waco. I was talking to a group of freshmen on campus, and the conversation went something like this…

Me: “Has anyone done anything over the past week to get involved with the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina?” (this was a service requirement I knew they had been given)

One Happy Girl: “I took some donations to a church here in town”.

Dark-headed girl: “I went home and there’s a big shelter there. Me and my mom took some food and other stuff there.”

Me: “That’s great. Did you get to talk to any of the people who had evacuated?”

Dark-headed girl: “ Well no. They were mean and scary. I mean they were like the scum of New Orleans.”

Me: Mouth unapologetically hanging wide open. Sitting there not knowing what to say.

Other students sitting around me: “Well they probably were. It was all the poor people and homeless and drug addicts that couldn’t get out.”

Me: (regaining my composure) “Yes, I understand that those who had the least were those who were not able to leave on their own, and who are now in these large shelters….”

(Something else was said at this point. I really can't remember how we transitioned to this next line of conversation.)

Happy girl: “Do you ever wonder where the people who stand on the corner with the signs begging for food get the marker to make the sign?”

(I know we’ve all heard that one before. The students started speculating.)

Red-headed boy: “I’m always surprised they can write it themselves.”

Me: (Jaw drops to the floor again.) “I think that we need to remember that homelessness is not something people are born into. There are some homeless people here in Waco that have college degrees.” I ended this conversation in a min-sermon about how we should love and respect the poor and summarized the verses about how when we help the poor, hungry, thirsty, and those in prison that’s what Jesus says we are doing to him.

I understand that these kids have lived all their lives in middle class or even upper class families. Many of them have probably never even had conversations with those who live below the poverty level. Still, it was just a completely sad conversation, and it seemed that I was the only person in the room who really realized it. Maybe I’m exaggerating all this in my head, but it is helping to confirm something I’ve been thinking for awhile. Not teaching our children to love and help the poor could be one of the biggest failures of our country and our churches. God help us.


Blogger Vernon Bowen said...

Keep being that voice of reason, I guess. It is a terrible thing that we can waltz through this life, through this city, through these times, with 24-hour news flickering before us and eyes wide open to tragedy, and instead of heartbreak, we feel suspicion. Instead of acting with compassion, we turn away in fear.
I take heart in the fact that these clueless students have at least one voice of reason in their lives, whether they want it and listen to it or not.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Christy C said...

hey friend- thansk for posting on my xanga- you tell me who yours is and i'll tell you mine:)

9:03 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home