I come to you today through this epistle of sorts, to relate and to communicate just how "what one witnesses can bring such profound and unwelcome change in one's being." This is a description of the physical, mental and spiritual change that can occur at the sight of certain physical events.
As a young man I witnessed how many students treated those with physical handicaps and mental retardation. The masses refused to defend those that the few were tormenting. The few seemed always to inflict the most damage and the most seemed to see the least. I wondered then, Was this peculiar to my class or was this the way it was? Was this how humans were and how we would become? And, if this was how we were to become, why did I feel so uncomfortable with it all ? Why did it violate something within that, by all appearances seemed to be anomalous to me? What I did NOT see or grasp was the actions of the tormentors were done based on fear and the lack of action by the masses was caused by anxiety within them, and most foreboding, the effects upon those to which the tormenting was directed was horrific.
Then, I knew instinctively that the unfortunate needed "a friend, defender and advocate." I also knew that being that would bring mockery and persecution to myself. Somehow, this was all acceptable with me. Not because I was a marvelous soul or extra tendered, but because I felt the pain, as it should be to me.
Many years later, my aspirations would lead me to the streets of Manila in the Philippines. In my thirties, I would find myself being treated as a dignitary and a guest of the government. A long way from home. A long way from the hallways and the classes of my youth, yet ever too close to spiritualistic sadness of those hours and bygone years.
As I was riding in the back of a black sedan through the streets we stopped for a light and a crowd of twenty or so children, no older than eight or nine rushed to car. Their little hands slamming on the window inches from my face. Their small voices screaming for money or food or for attention. My soul exploded with monstrous wretchedness and all encompassing devastation. Those faces burned into my minds eye; their bodies filthy and grimy coursed through my well-groomed and perfectly tailored Armani scented existence.
I describe myself then only to accentuation the division, the distance and the wide divide between my cultural standards of home, requirements of three well prepared meals and minimums financial prosperity versus the standard of a home at all or one with walls and windows, food more than twice a week that is uncontaminated and any monies that were not begged stolen or earn in exchange for sexual favors.
The divide was so wide that I knew that it was not because the world did not care, it was because the world could not grasp the measurements of the divide. It was not because the world could not help, or would not assist, it was because the world did not desire to know or be exposed to such inhumanity for fear that seeing or witnessing such barbaric conditions and not helping would bring about that same anxiety that I referred to at home and in our youth. As if we would be some kind of barbarian for not helping once we knew that it existed and existed for and with and to innocent children.
The issue for me, then, was not one of a biblical description. I can not say that the Bible led me to feel and except their pain, however, I am sure that God was working deeply to remove the many miles of the divide.
As I returned to my familiar home in the States, I was profoundly heartbroken and deeply disturbed. The nightmares and tears ceased to cease. The days ran together, the weeks blended and month marched on with an emptiness so consequential that I felt as if the living of life was simply inconsequential without helping the children somehow. Everything I did was tarnished with a comparison of the divides. The sadness was not birthed entirely from the children, although most prominent was their faces and their little hands; the sadness was indeed from the realization that the human spirit could be so infected with malice while marching through life in such dignified appearances. How thin the line could be and how I needed to re-analyze my thinking, my attitude and my willingness to transform.
My healing began as a stepped back from life and the pursuit of riches and acclaim. The curing began as I allowed myself to comprehend other and their approach to life and their pursuits. My way, my methods, my thought process was not the center of the universe, in fact, I knew very little of the universe. I was as guilty, if not more so, of building and digging divides than most for fear of anyone getting too close and exposing my lack of compassion and fears.
What do I do now, I asked? How do I move through this endless nightmare? Wait, it was not about me, rather those children. To reduce the divide I must connect the dots, bring us together, bring them closer, embrace the poverty in order to eliminate the death and starvation. I must bring the plight to the surface so that the great minds and greater hearts can connect and bring into action the steps to STOP THIS SCOURGE. It means that the "I" in "me" better get busy and do the things needed and then share with the "you" in "us" how much fun it was and how easy it is to change the lives of so many people. If I go there first and I fight the fear, beat back the enemies and cross this divide, then maybe, you will follow and in such numbers, since there a whole lot more of you then me, and then, "golly", we might actually do what could not be done by me, or I or you or us... we will have "done it."