Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in one of the McDonald’s here in town drinking a cup of coffee when a gentleman I know, who is also homeless, came over to my table and said: "Man, you sure let those Bible thumpers have it."
Since I wasn’t sure what he was talking about I had to ask him to be a little more specific. He went on to mention my posting yesterday morning and how I had "really let them have it."
I had to sigh. Then I had to explain to him that I hadn’t intended to let anyone "have it." I was simply writing about something that I had personally witnessed and the thoughts that I had had as a result of it. He seemed a bit disappointed with that. I guess he thought I had really scored some major points.
That being said…
Toward the beginning of the year I had a chance to watch some television and had the station tuned to C-SPAN. The two people being interviewed were U.S. Supreme Court Justices’ Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia.
At one point during the session, in reference to the American people, Justice Scalia said:
"…we are a religious people."
I recall that I thought to myself how astute and accurate a statement it was. Most Americans are indeed people of faith. To me that’s a good thing.
Whether or not I have the same theological of religious beliefs as someone else is immaterial. What matters is that someone’s faith is an extremely personal thing. It’s something that creates a moral compass in their life and helps to instill some sense of morals when it comes to the way they interact with other human beings. Far be it from me to tell someone how they should worship.
And with that having being said…
Most mornings there is a woman with whom I cross paths. Late last week, I had the opportunity to have a few minutes of conversation with her.
In the course of her job as a city employee she has had her share of interactions with the homeless in this community. As we spoke about the homeless, she shared with me some of the experiences she’s had dealing with the homeless.
Although she pointed out that there were homeless who were content with being homeless and that it was a choice they had made, she was just as quick to point out that she knew not all the homeless were just lazy or homeless due to drugs or alcohol addictions.
She went on to talk about some solutions that she thought would be beneficial at helping those homeless who wanted to be free of homelessness.
Mostly what I recall is the way she spoke to me in a respectful and dignified manner – despite my being one of this community’s homeless and, I realized that this was a person of faith. She may not have worn her faith on her sleeve, and she may not particularly think of herself as being religious, but she nonetheless exhibited a tolerance that comes from a faith in someone or something.
If she reads this I hope that she understands how much I appreciated those few minutes of conversation; how much I appreciated being spoken to as an individual instead of as a part of a group who are so often categorized as "bad seeds."
I hope the she knows that I walked away from that conversation with a renewed sense of hope and faith in the people of, not only my community, but my nation – a nation that I love.
That renewed sense of hope makes the struggles of being homeless just a little bit less burdensome.
I’ve always believed that deep down inside, as a people, Americans are a good people. We’re second to none. We have this way of seeing past the surface of things – if we take the time to do so. And when we do, we’re able to make wonderful things happen: things that can help lift up those who need it. We just need to have the faith that we can make a difference.
The way this woman took the time to talk with me the other day, proved to me that my faith in our nation is justified.