Monday, November 24, 2008

The Crazy White Woman

I was shamed at church by the Crazy White Woman last night. Sitting in my cozy seat with my cozy wife and kid, wearing our cozy jackets, bellies full, listening to the plight of starving children. Not around the other side of the world, or on some TV commercial where I give .29c a day to adopt a kid, but right around the corner here in my cozy hometown. 

There she stood, microphone in hand, tears streaming down her face while she described the things I drive past every day, and yet never see, or choose to never see. How does it happen that I have become so comfortable, to glibly walk past those who are hurting, and never see the pain in their eyes.  

She laid it all out so calmly. The 55% of children here in my hometown that are on the public school Free Breakfast and Lunch, not just reduced price. How they often fold their sandwich up at lunch and carefully keep it, because there is no other meal for them, Friday to Monday. The toddler children of the prostitute mother, forced out until late hours to roam the street because mommy has "company", if you know what I mean. 

It’s easy for me to walk past some homeless guy and respond that I don’t have any cash. I don’t, its all plastic for me, and if he can take plastic, well, he doesn’t need my help.  

But children? 

She goes on. The child with the ear infection that she took to the doctor, the mother just didn’t care. Only it wasn’t an ear infection, it was roaches. This happens in America? Or does it not matter because it’s so easy to ignore, if I want to. 

When did I stop asking my inner voice what to do, when I see the homeless guy? When did I lose my shock, sometime between now and when my parents used to rush me by and tell me not to stare? I don’t even consult my conscience to see if maybe something about THIS guy is different and I can hope and believe he will use my dollar and change for food not fire water? 

Or does it not matter because these children don’t look like mine? After all, they are of all cultural origins, dirty, unkempt, misbehaving, certainly we shouldn’t have to take pity on them! Far easier it is to sit back and take potshots, decrying the parenting and lack of structure in their family. And right we would be, but unkind, unhelpful, missing the point. 

For these are children. 

I cannot sleep; my thoughts are ever with the Crazy White Woman and her crusade, as many of the black residents of our town have taken to calling her. Perhaps she really is crazy too. Isn’t it crazy to take your paycheck and buy food, rent a hall every other weekend, and feed the hungry children who make their way there, every other Saturday night? Isn’t it crazy to take concern over little ones not your own, and take not just concern, but action? Isn’t it crazy to play with the four children out late in the park, until mommy's "company" is gone, so they can be safe until they return to their beds? 

So I am taking a stand with her, if she will have me. Too long I have been oblivious to the world around. Too long it has been someone else’s problem. Too long I have been blind, because they were poor, or look different, or are from the other side of the tracks. It is time I start taking responsibility for my community, and all of its members. 

Starting with its most helpless, the children.

1 comment:

Bess Twitches said...

Way to wake up. There is no need for shame. Do what you can and then do some more. Conservatives are compassionate, too. We just don't expect everyone to be.