Tag Archives: poverty

the lies we buy

greatness

greatness awaits.

that’s the new catch phrase being used by sony playstation to promote their new gaming console. a series of scenes showing men  in medieval times battling each other with swords and battle axes, racing fast cars and leading futuristic armies against one another make up the bulk of the commercial. the men sing the late lou reed’s ‘a perfect day’ as they do all this, adding a bit of humour while alluding to the ‘connectedness’ of the on-line gaming culture.

i get it. its smart advertising on sony’s part. men have a natural inclination towards exploring and conquering. it seems to be in our genes. so in one fell swoop, sony was able to portray a product that enables its users to explore new worlds, save humanity from an alien invasion and score the winning goal in fifa world cup.  and you can do it all in one afternoon with your buddies, if you like.

smart.

i don’t want to critique video games or even the people who play them, though i must admit that’s my first inclination. i used to play video games when i was younger so i’d only be a hypocrite if i took that approach. i’d prefer to critique the motto driving this current product – greatness awaits.

video games used to be for kids and youth. today, the demographic has shifted to men in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. with the demographic shift has come a shift in content for games. video game companies focus more on marketing to the older crowd using war, racing and sports.

again, i get it. it’s smart to go after this demographic since they have both the money and time to invest.

smart business.

what gets me is that men are more willing to spend their hard-earned money on, invest their precious time in and build community around/within video games when real greatness awaits them outside of all this.

i agree with sony that “greatness awaits”, but i disagree where we will find it.

i like the quote by martin luther king, jr where he says, “not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”   instead of entertaining ourselves with great things, shouldn’t we be employing our gifts, talents and resources in great service to those that need them?
issues to give your gifts, talents and resources to:

a growing movement of people are standing up against all the forms of slavery in our world, but more are needed.  human rights groups estimate that anywhere between 12.3 million and 27 million people are enslaved in forced or bonded labour, child labour, sexual servitude, and involuntary servitude at any given time.

world hunger and poverty still needs a lot of hands on deck. the united nations food and agriculture organization estimates that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

how much does a video game console cost? this latest sony product is pushing $1000.

there is still a large need for big brothers or sisters everywhere. many youth are growing up without any positive role models to help them navigate their lives – education, employment, health, drugs, etc. mentoring can go a long way in the life of a child.

i could also mention the unnecessary wars being fought with corporate profits and not people in mind, or the environmental degradation and exploitation happening all over the globe, or the racism, sexism and prejudice that need people actively working against.

but these things don’t get the sexy commercials and airtime that sony money can buy.

great things do await us, but i don’t think it’s found in the escapism of video games (or any other things – alcohol, sports, tv, politics – we use for escapism) but involvement in the real issues that affect the communities we live in, the countries we inhabit and the world we must leave to our great-grandchildren.

true greatness awaits us, if we choose to pursue and sacrifice for it.

/rantover

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back from the dead

for the first couple days all i could go on were the stories i had heard others tell me. anxiety began setting in a bit, though the anger stood front and center and ready for action. my mind has functioned the same way for so long. you hurt mine and i will hurt you.

my blood boiled inside of my veins.

then i finally saw him.

bruised, bashed, beaten and broken.

before today, dave looked every bit the homeless man he was. he even shuffled his feet in the stereotypical way you might a imagine a beggar doing so. his unruly hair and unmanaged beard also fit the stereotype. he collected cigarettes butts from bus stops to gather up enough tobacco to roll his own cigarettes. his fingernails and teeth stained yellow and brown from his habit.

but that was only dave’s outer appearance. you can’t even come close to judging dave’s book by examining his cover. what he may appear to lack on the outer shell, he more than makes up for inside.

i’ve known dave for almost 3 years now. met him through a few of the other street guys i was working with at the time. dave had told me about the hassles the local police had been given him for panhandling. they had barred him from panhandling in a certain area that was a big money-maker for him. instead of listening to the police, he continued to go back to the spot and work his ‘trade’. a man’s gotta eat.

eventually the police began giving him ridiculously priced fines knowing full well that he couldn’t and wouldn’t pay them. our tax dollars hard at work, ladies and gentlemen of halifax.

dave and i began to hang out and talk on a frequent basis. it didn’t take long for me to realize that dave was a genius. he knew his way around computers like he had created them. his understanding of philosophical and economic matters made me a bit envious at times. geography, history, psychology, sociology, physics – you name it, dave knew it.

and all this without a shred of arrogance or pride.

humble as a hummingbird.

“you are still alive,” i say as i sit down beside him at the table.

“they don’t know how but ya, i am.”

dave’s arm is in a sling overtop of a blue hospital shirt, resting on the left arm of his new wheelchair. his eyes are both blood-shot and his face is a mess, to say the least. his left eye is worse where they hit him with a large rock. dried blood lines his ears and nostrils.

my blood pressure is rising again.

“what happened, dave?” i ask.

in a robbery attempt to take his gst cheque, a group of young adults attacked and beat dave to within an each of his life. they used a large rock to initially knock him down and then their feet to knock him unconscious. a witness to the assault said they had kicked him in the head 16 more times AFTER dave had been knocked out.

sickening.

“but ya know what? i forgive them, or at least my heart wants to forgive them,” dave explains to me. “jail is going to eat those young kids alive. as much as i wish they hadn’t done this to me, i wish they hadn’t done it to themselves.”

all i can think about is what i would do if i got my hands on those punks and dave, even in his pain, finds the ability to forgive those who inflicted that very pain on him.

i’m humbled.
but his story gets worse.

after getting out of the hospital, dave crawls into a cardboard trash bin to make a bed and get some sleep. he wakes up to crashing and banging and his whole world being turned upside down. he then finds himself inside of the back of a large garbage truck. the lid closes tight, shutting off the outside world. then the crushing starts..

can you imagine?!

seriously, try to imagine this scenario happening to you. you get jumped and almost killed in a violent mugging, and then as soon as you are released from the hospital you are thrown into the back of a garbage truck that begins squeezing you to death.

dave talked about the experience in great detail.

he felt his collar-bone snap and his arm begin to bend. the cardboard helped cushion a bit of the crushing at first. eventually there was no more give. pain all over his body. he told me he didn’t know what to do so he began praying.

desperately praying.

the crushing stopped.

he began pounding on the side of the garbage truck with his free arm and yelling for help but no one could hear him. the crushing started again. he began praying again.

it stopped again.

he kept praying desperately that the truck would stop so the driver could hear him and free him from his steel torture chamber. it does. the driver stopped to gas up and hears dave pounding on the side of the truck. he opens it up and gets dave out and to the hospital.

“crazy, hey?”

“no kidding!” i reply. “God must have things for you to do still.”

he nods his head.

“i definitely believe that, lucas. i’m convinced of it now.”

dinner was about to be served at the shelter so i had to run back into the kitchen to help serve but told dave i’d be back after. he smiled and nodded. afterwards we sat and chatted more about his ordeal.

“you sound different, dave.”

he spoke less like a man who had just been crippled by two life altering incidents and more like a man re-energized and recharged to take life by the horns.

“i know. something clicked,” he tells me. “it’s time for me to make some changes, not only to myself but to the world around me.”

i hope he’s the one to lead the revolution. nothing would make me happier.

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changing my perspective

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spring has come and with it the unpredictable weather changes that often leave me wondering what to wear when i leave the house.  if i bring my jacket, the sun pours down its bright, warm rays and i’m sweating large beads of sweat down my face.  if i don’t bring my jacket, the skies open up and the rain soaks me.

it doesn’t seem like a battle i’m soon to win.

yesterday was another one of those days.  i had errands to do and the weather had decided it would not be cooperating with me.  it would rain and then stop and then bluster some wind and mist into my face then stop again.  i cursed the weather underneath my breath (cursing it out loud might look to others as if i was crazy) and told it to seek help for its schizophrenic behavior.

seroquel anyone?

on my way into the bank i noticed an elderly man sitting outside the front doors holding a sign.  his silver metal cane rested against the telephone pole as he sat on what looked like a walker.  his sign had a plastic tupperware bowl taped to it for people to drop some change in.  i read the sign as i reached for the door handle.

‘please help this man in need.’

i nodded his way and he did the same.

‘not the best day for panhandling, hey?’ i asked the man.

‘i’ve seen worst,’ he replied through a bright smile.

i entered the bank and got done what i needed to get done.  as i left the building a couple were just passing by the elderly man and placed some change in his plastic bowl.

‘thank you so much for your kindness,’ he said to them as they hurried onto the cross walk.

i had more errands to run and with little time to get them all done as the work day was winding down.  i could talk with this man for a bit, i told myself, but needed to be on my way soon.

‘how are you doing today?’ i asked him.

‘well,’ he replied, ‘i’ve met some very interesting and generous people today.  it’s made this weather more bearable.’

i asked him about his cane and walker.  he explained that he had been hit by a drunk driver some 30 years ago, which left him crippled and unable to work much.  he told me about the newly graduated engineering students who had hit him head on while he was driving home one night and how he had learned to forgive them for their poor choice to get behind the wheel.

today, he lived in an old van that he plugged into a house to keep himself warm.  he made an agreement with the homeowner to give him money for the electricity that he used.  he spoke about how grateful he was for the relationship he has with this man and how kind he has been to him.

we talked about his travels across canada, his accident, the comforts and discomforts of living in a van, philosophical ideas and food.

‘are you hungry?’ i asked.

‘yes, but i need to make some more money before i can do that.’

‘how about i get us some chicken wraps?’ i offered.

‘why, that would be a fine idea!’

as i started to make my way across the cross walk, he yelled after me, ‘i still don’t know your name.’

‘it’s lucas.’

i returned with a few wraps for him to nibble on and a stuck a small book i had been reading into the bag along with the food.  he thanked me and was very gracious.  i told him that i had more to thank him for than anything else.

he looked puzzled.

‘before i met you today,’ i said, ‘i was having a rather frustrating day.  i was frustrated with the errands i had to run, the limited time i had to do them and the crummy weather i had to do them in.  after talking with you, all that seemed to disappear.  so, thank you.’

he removed the glove from his right hand and we shook hands.

thanks for the conversation, lauren.  i won’t soon forget it.

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bye, wally

ok, i’m ready.

a couple of blog posts back i said i wasn’t ready to talk about my friend, wally.  i am now.

wally looked like he had been a handsome man at some point in his youth, but age, addiction and cancer had robbed him of that.  his sunken eyes and cheeks spoke to his sickened state better than any other feature on his dying body.  i’ve seen pictures of holocaust survivors in concentration camps that looked healthier than he did.

one day wally asked me for a new pair of pants.  i grabbed the key and we went up into the donations rooms to find him something.  since he didn’t own a belt, we tried to find pants that fit him snug.  we couldn’t.  he was too skinny.  it was then that it hit me how sick wally was.

i apologized for not being able to find him a pair of pants that fit but wally just shrugged it off and told me not to worry.  the dirty and torn jeans he had on would have to suffice.  i offered to find a pair at the clothing store down the street but he wouldn’t have anything of it.  he shook my hand, thanked me for my time and left.  his hands were bony and cold.

there are some memories that always stay with you.

on one overnight shift i was able to sit and talk with wally about his life.  he had not had an easy go at life by any stretch of the imagination, but, as he told me, ‘other people have had worse lives’.  i wasn’t sure then and i’m still not sure now whether he said that to comfort me or himself.  possibly both.

chemotherapy was wrecking his body, inside out.  the cancer he had was an aggressive type so the doctors were meeting it with equally aggressive therapy.  and there was wally stuck in the middle, his frail body barely holding up under such horrendous conditions.

drinking alcohol numbed the pain, he told me.  he didn’t care that it made things worse.  he was going to have as much fun with his friends as he could before he passed into the next life.  his immune system could just suck it up, he told me.

ha!

wally coughed up blood and i panicked slightly.  i think he saw the worried look on my face as he wiped the bloody spit from his lips.

‘don’t worry about it, lucas.  i’m fine’.

he wasn’t fine but the way he said it almost made me believe him.  his voice carried such warmth and care.  the type of voice that puts you at ease.  i wanted to believe him so badly but i knew the cancer had him in a bad way.

‘do you even want to beat cancer?’

i regretted asking it as soon as the words left my mouth.  how insensitive could i possibly be?

‘on most days, no.’

silence.

after a few moments, he continued:

‘i think i’m ready to die, lucas.  i’ve dealt with a lot of pain in my life and i think when i die the pain will end.’

i haven’t talked death so frankly with anyone in my life like i did with wally that night.

‘but, there are some days when i’m with good people – my friends, what remains of my family and relatives – that i gain more strength to want to fight and live longer.’

‘conversations like the one we are having right now, lucas, they give me more strength and desire to keep pushing forward’.

with that, he shook my hand and limped his way to his bed,  blessing me beyond any words could ever describe.
thanks, wally.  i hope your pain is gone now and you are finally at rest.

rip wally

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death, where is your sting?

the past few days have been difficult. africa dying hit closer to home than i ever expected. his passing has me thinking about death more. no, not in the morbid sense. im not completely off my rocker yet. its got me thinking about life and the death of life. big picture stuff.

death isnt really the end. its a new beginning to the rest of your life. well, thats what i believe. i think we live forever and ever, somewhere. heaven, paradise, city of gold, kingdom of God, home.

i know atheists will probably scold me for saying such a thing, but i feel bad for atheists. i really do. genuine pity. if i understand atheism, and i think do, the logical conclusion of its philosophy is that there is no meaning, no purpose, no life after death. not only does nothing really matter nor any truth really exist, but when we die thats it.

what an awful thing to believe.

worm food. lights go out and they dont come back on.

i realize that this isnt an argument against atheism, because something being unfortunately terrible doesnt make it wrong, but it does make it terrible and something that offers very little hope for this life. no thanks, atheism.

id rather see and embrace the hope we have in the gospel. thanks, Jesus.

im going to leave it at that. for now.

i miss the dtes a lot right now. i havent missed it there this much since i first left. i wonder how so many people are doing. i wonder how aj is doing and if he has kicked his addiction. i wonder how elizabeth is doing and if she beat cancer. i wonder how daryl has been and if he has gone home to nunavut like he told me he needed to.

i wonder about many others and wonder when ill go back, if ever.

i hope to.

today i worked the door at hope cottage. eddie had taken the night off and andrew asked if i wanted the gig. no apron, greet everyone that entered the building and carry a clicker to count guests. its even better than it sounds.

cheque day was on wednesday so business is slow. the regulars are all there though and a few new faces. kenny comes in with rap blasting from his cell phone. a few heads in the room turn in his direction and he graciously turns it off as he grabs a tray. considerate member of the community.

skylar comes in for dinner late. he grabs some bread and dinner and comes to talk with me. he finally got an apartment! i congratulate him and we high five.

high fiving is a great celebratory gesture on the streets. i quite enjoy it.

skylar was a youth that was living at the shelter when i worked there. i got to know him there and when he came out to play street soccer for a while. smart cree kid, very athletic, advocate for others, but with a bit of a temper.

he has had housing for just over a month. he moved in just before christmas. good gift from santa, id say. already its helping him. he is taking his addictions more seriously and doing what he needs to do to be healthy. hes staying out of trouble which means the police arent harassing him.. as much.

i couldnt be happier for him!

we talk school and where things are at with that. school is next on his list of things to do but he feels lost. hes not sure where to go from here. i agree to help him figure that out. hes too smart and gifted not to get his high school diploma and give himself a better chance at life. he agrees. he promises to come out for street soccer this sunday and bring his sudanese roommate who loves playing soccer with him.

i hear they start playing soccer in the womb over there. i expect this guy to be good.

skylars big success has me hopeful. even in the midst of death, grief and sadness, theres a lot to be hopeful for. hope for at-risk youth getting housed and educated. hope for my other friends on the street rising up out of poverty. hope for me seeing my friend, africa again (and all the others) on the other side.

bye, grief. hello, hope.

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giving up to gain

there wasnt much to do when i arrived at hope cottage on friday morning.  soup was on the burner warming up, coffee and tea were brewing in their respective pots, and sandwiches had all been made up for the day.  brian make quick work of the morning routine.  i found him at the back of the dining room hall nose-deep in his new book, the hunger games when i came in.  we exchanged a nod and a friendly morning grunt.  yes, we grunt when we see one another.

primitives, we are.

morning meal didnt draw much of a crowd.  gst cheques came in on thursday.  tim came into help serve and we got talking about life.  tim is only a couple of years older than i but with his grey beard seems about 20 years my senior.  i dont tell him that though.  its too soon in our knowing one another to tease about silly things like that.  tim limps a bit when he walks because of an old injury and serves coffee and tea with a giant smile on his face.

thanks for all you do, tim.

after breakfast, andrew asked me if i was interested in making soup.  having never made soup before i decided to take him up on the offer.  but first, lunch.  eggs, chorizo sausages and toast with a glass of orange juice.

mmm.

what looked and seemed like a great combination turned into anything but.  a collective belly ache came over the three of us (terry, our director joined us).  it made for an uncomfortable early afternoon.

never.  having.  that.  combo.  again!

on to soup making.

andrew got me to do most of the work.  something about learning better from doing.  sure, sure, lazy boy (kidding).  he lead me through the process.  boiling the chickens, tearing off all the meat, dicing up the meat, adding spices, veggies and rice, and voila!  chicken rice soup.
ill have to see how the crowd likes it on monday morning.  if any get sick im blaming it on andrew though.  thats legit, right?

in the midst of making soup, andrew and i got to talking about homelessness and poverty in our city.  what i learned was valuable.

a few years back, andrew went on a missions trip to the ukraine.  while there he witnessed what he described to me as the worst imaginable poverty.  it rocked his world and changed his perspectives.  upon returning back home, he felt some personal changes were in order.  he told me he felt a calling from God to give more of himself to the local poor and homeless community in halifax. unfortunately, working two jobs didnt afford him much time to do much of anything. so he did what any reasonable person would do – he quit his jobs.

with ample free time on his hands he devoted himself to volunteering at hope cottage, serving food and helping with whatever he could.  he loved it.  it filled a need in the community while also filling a hole in his heart.  that hole in all our hearts that can only be filled when we love our neighbor as ourself.

shortly after volunteering at hope andrew was asked if he wanted to be hired on as a member of the fulltime staff.  his desire to gives himself more to the local poor and homeless community lead to a completely different career. what a great example of what it looks like to really trust God with ones life; to step out in faith and sacrifice your comfort for some thing much larger than yourself.

inspiring to say the very least.

andrew is just another guy trying to follow Jesus the best he can.  im darn glad we are friends.

“human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” -mlk

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hope

‘do you like chocolate?’

what a silly question.

‘of course i like chocolate.  who doesnt?’

with that the bearded man with coffee-stained teeth and a hearty laugh forced a newspaper clipping into my right hand.

‘theres all the chocolate you could ever want and more!’

he was right.  the image of a newly constructed chocolate train held a caption underneath it stating that its weight was calculated at just over a ton.  a ton of chocolate!  my dentist would smack me upside the head good if he just saw the way i was oogling that train.

mm, chocolate transportation.

my fellow chocolate lover took back his newspaper clipping and resumed his place in line, muttering to himself about trains and chocolate.  hes one of the many people ive had the opportunity to meet in my short tenure at hope cottage, a soup kitchen in the north end of halifax.  two weeks ago i decided that doing construction work was far too hard on my body (knees and back didnt like it) and i had little time to hang out with my friends on the street.

‘what are you?  a wrestler?’

i cant say anyone has ever asked me that question before.  the small, old man who asked me probably thought everyone looked like giant wrestlers.  i told him i wasnt a wrestler but his squinted eyes and doubting stare told me didnt believe me.  maybe its better if people think im a wrestler since the soup kitchens location is smack dab in the middle of one of the more dangerous areas of the city, if not the most.

hope cottage looks like just your average house from the street.  it was opened 42 years ago by a local church pastor to help struggling low-income families and homeless men with meals during the week.  what probably started as a temporary fix has become a fixture for the city that has seen its poor and homeless population grow larger over the years.  several different churches and groups help supply food to help with costs and hundreds of volunteers help serve the meals.

its an incredible organization to be a part of.  im blessed.

laurie came in for dinner tonight.  the first thing i saw was her big smile.

‘i didnt know you were working here!’ she said followed by a big hug.

laurie tells me she got her old job back (!!) and has been working for the past three weeks.  now she is able to see her kids on the weekends!

its not everyday i get to hear success stories which just makes this one that much better.

congrats, laurie, and thanks hope cottage for having me aboard.

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stirring

my blogs are a day behind right now because its only when i wake up the next day do i have time to write. yesterday was no different. seemed as soon as i was out the door life grabbed hold and wanted me to be a patient observer and participant. i love it when that happens.

chuck didnt make it to the hangout spot yesterday, which was a bit disappointing. fortunately i was able to catch up with donnie, one of the guys i had been working with when i was with pax. donnie, a short little guy with a diabetic problem and a penchant to get into the sauce a bit too often, caught me up on his life while ive been gone. hes lost a considerable amount of weight which isnt a good thing when hes already a small guy. we talk about his addiction a bit but hes not ready to seek further help. he cant seem to get past denial.

as i leave i run into paul, one of the men that sit on the board at the out of the cold shelter. hes a fairly prominent figure in the community, having given the past 30 years to helping the community in halifax. great guy. we talk about different projects hes involved in and what the out of the cold shelter hopes to accomplish for next year. he encourages me by saying that he can tell people on the street and in the community enjoy engaging with me and that hes glad im here. coming from a man of his standing im pretty left pretty speechless. we shake hands and i float off. thanks, paul.

again i head into uniacke square to play some ball with simo. we train for a couple hours and call it a day. kat shows up and we talk a walk through the square, towards the water. we hit brunswick st as hope cottage is finishing up their dinner for those on the street and catch beaver as hes heading home. we exchange hugs and catch up with him. he bugs me about looking skinnier and i bug him about the big belly hes acquired since ive been gone. i ask him if the baby is kicking yet and he howls.

on our way home, i decide to stop in at the local ymca to see whats going on. i greeted by a couple friendly older men from the community who happen to work there. i ask how one goes about getting involved at the y and we go from there. i get the whole meal deal speal from terry, who tells me everything id ever need to know about the facility and the community. his passion for the kids and his desire to see his community changed is so apparent in the way he talks. i love talking with people like that. we exchange contact info and he invites me out on friday to play ball with some of the older men in the community. nothing like some basketball and community connections.

i leave the north end feeling more connected, feeling a greater potential for change than i have in the past. something is stirring..

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out of the cold..

 

i cant seem to find the words lately to write. i know theyre there but getting them down on to some paper or a screen seems like a battle. for someone who needs to write (it may be the only medication available for my type of insanity) this is a rather unfortunate predicament. even these words seem forced and unnatural. i can only assume my heart and mind have heavier things weighing on them than my need to write. or maybe my insanity just needs more attention.

contrary to what i might be telling myself, working 3 jobs may be catching up with me. ive gotten ‘ you look tired’ more lately than i care to admit. i like to just think it has to do with being awake when its dark and sleeping through the sun. am i just lying to myself? probably. dad told me hes going to send me something for my sleep apnea so im praying that fixes my faded exterior a bit. if not, maybe i need to reorganize.

last night was a tough wrap up to 3 shift stretch of graveyards at the out of the cold shelter. the shelter is an emergency space for people unable to access other housing or shelter space in the city. because of limited space and liability issues, we’re only able to accommodate 15 people a night, even though we have space for many more. last night i had to deny 5 men who were trying to escape the rapidly dropping temperature, but not before filling their pockets full of food, their bags full of blankets and warm clothes, and tim hortons cards so they could sit somewhere warm for a while. to say there arent enough beds in this city for the homeless is an understatement. a gross understatement. im not sure what we’re going to do when january comes and the real cold temperatures hit. when do peoples lives become more important than liabilities?

jason came by a few times trying to access the shelter. him and i have been hanging out a lot lately while im at work. the cocktail of medication drugs hes prescribed for his schizophrenia doesnt allow him to sleep very long, or so he tells me. i like to think its because i make a mean cup of coffee. either way, jason and i have become fast friends. he tells me everything i ever wanted to know about music (and then some!) and i keep the coffee flowing. its a good relationship. when he tried to access the third time, he looked tired, cold and hungry. i parked him in one of the beat up old sofa chairs for a minute while i grabbed some food and coffee to warm him back up. he was snoring by the time i came back. i asked my volunteer staff, john, if he had a problem with ‘bending’ some rules. he didnt and neither did i. jason stayed.

daryl, who suffers from a similar metal illness, woke up looking for some coffee and conversation. probably the smartest intellect ive met on the streets and quite possibly ever.  no exaggeration!  his ideas on life and questions concerning everything else associated with it made me think harder than i cared to at 5 in the morning but it was refreshing nonetheless. im still trying to wrap my mind around the zero-gravity black hole theory he was trying to explain to me. hopefully ill have an answer for him when we talk next.

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what do we value?

something really struck me hard the other day.  im only now finding the words to describe it.

so as a people left st. andrews after sunday dinner, we began to take the empty chairs and tables and began stacking them away til next sunday. as i was collecting chairs around one of the tables a woman tapped on my shoulder and reached out her hand to give me something. it was a knife. a quite dangerous knife, most likely used for violence telling by its specific design. “can you do something with this, please?” i raised my eyes  to see her and saw she wasnt alone. her young daughter who couldnt have been older than 9 sat at the table behind her. she looked like a younger version of her mother. she told me she stepped on it as she got up from her seat. it was easy to see the look of worry on both her and her daughters faces. i took the knife and got rid of it, at the same time thinking “they shouldnt have to deal with this”.  now, i dont know their entire situation or how they came to be there but i know that no child should have to grow up around violence.  no child should have to grow up in poverty, especially in a first-world nation like our own thats more than abundantly rich. unfortunately, far too many children in canada have to live in poverty. ive read a few stats on child poverty in canada with one study i read saying 1 in 6 and another saying 1 in 5 children live in poverty. as canada stands roughly at 33 million at the present hour, thats a lot of children either way.

so the question is – what do we most value?

happiness?

comfort?

money?

acquiring more stuff?

where is family on the list? is it even on there..? is it that important to us? it should be!

strong countries are built on strong societies which are built upon strong communities which are built upon strong families. if our family units are weak, we’re all weak. we need to stop thinking about ourselves and start thinking about the collective. i realize this is a foreign thought lost in the midst of the large shadow of western consumerism, but ask yourself, does ” stuff” really make you that happy?    has the empty philosophy of materialism made our lives (collectively) better?  i dont believe so. heck, i know it hasnt. just look at child poverty for one moment. one moment! go to google and type in ” child poverty”. you wont need to look much further. the proof is in the pudding, yet, we continue to consume and consume and consume and we forget (purposely?) about the struggling members of our communities, our societies and our countries. im going to bore you for a second with a few more stats and tell you that we have some 3 billion people in this world living on less than 2 dollars a day and that 1 person dies every second as a result, either directly or indirectly, of hunger – 4000 every hour – 100 000 each day – 36 million each year! we could save many of these people. we have the resources to help. why dont we?

so what can we do?

support your community. find a program whose mission is to build up community from within. join them. help kids, talk to youth and reach out to a lonely elderly person. tons of grant money for social programs go unclaimed every year. funding that could change the lives of a lot of people. write a proposal and help run a community-based program. be a big brother or sister. help coach a sports team. reach out to young single mothers. serve a meal at a homeless shelter. find someone in need and help. you might just like it 🙂

rant over/

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