"Jesus went through all of the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.""
Matt. 9: 35-38
I just finished a 4 month gig working at an inner-city school that serves a very marginalized bunch of kids and their families. There is a lot of poverty, homelessness and abuse that comes with this territory. Many of the older kids are affiliated with gangs and such. Not a lot of positive choices are being made.
To top that all off, last month we had a tornado that decided to visit this area. Since half of the homes in this area are rentals, a huge chunk of the residents are now left with few options. It's a difficult environment to work in because you tend to see, at best, only a few glimpses of hope in these types of circumstances.
So I need to vent a bit.
But first, please pay close attention to the lyrics in this song.
I hate poverty. I hate what it does to people. I hate how it degrades the "Image of God" into something that is almost sub-human.
I hate "Liberals." I hate how, through some type of guilt-ridden conscience, they will throw good money after bad. I hate their ideas that another government program here and there, with it's top-heavy bureaucracy in which the money flows upwards, will actually make any meaningful dent in these situations. I hate how they feel very self-satisfied that they "Did something to make a difference," but actually only eased their poor self-esteem.
I hate "Conservatives." I hate how they talk from time to time about helping the poor, but in all actuality, they barely give a damn. Our welfare state sucks!!! But the fact is, it's the only one we have, and I rarely see any "Conservative-Republican" offering a functional, practical or realistic alternative. What I DO see is that when it comes time for budget cuts, they go after programs that serve the poor as if it were as natural as breathing.
I hate "Community Activists." I hate how they think that they can lead a neighborhood, but can't even set a halfway decent example for their kids at home. They are great at getting people all riled up...which may explain why their children are often such little shits. I hate that it is often my tax dollars that fund their ridiculous programs that only serve to put money in their pockets.
I hate people with easy and simplistic answers to difficult problems. I hate their pat answers and broad generalizations. I hate how they can make wise and learned pronouncements when most of them have never spent much time at all with any poor people, let alone getting to know them as a human beings. (That goes for people who make broad statements about the rich, too, and their desire to soak them for their money.)
I also hate the "Poor." Poverty in America is unlike any poverty that I have seen in other countries. I don't understand how a poor person can have a cell phone, but no job or house. I hate how they so often assume that they are owed things and entitled to "Stuff" simply because they breathe air. I have watched the Red Cross hand out water, food and toys to people, children and families for a few weeks now. I was appalled and HATED seeing so many of these gifts strewn about our park like half-eaten trash. (I watched some kids use their free sandwiches as toys to be kicked around the yard.)
I hate the idea that poverty in America is mostly a learned behavior. Somewhere along the line, a stupid parent begat stupid children. I hate it that these parents never taught these children a work ethic, personal responsibility, and appreciation for other people's property and belongings. I hate the fact that most of them will never learn from the mistakes of their parents, and will only be successful in life at replicating their own misery in the lives of their children...from a variety of different fathers. ("Has anyone around here ever heard of this thing called a "Condom?" It's a tiny magical device that will keep you from growing cacti in unmentionable places, and sprouting one more mouth that you can't afford to feed. You might like to try one some day...pretty please.")
I hate it.
I hate poverty, Liberals, Conservatives, Community Activists, easy/simplistic answers and the Poor.
But most of all, I hate myself.
I hate myself because there are times when I will be looking at a student and think to myself; "You, kid, are a walking dead man. You have made so many stupid choices that your life is virtually over already and you don't even know it." I hate it that so often I no longer see God's image when I am dealing with some people. I hate having those kinds of thoughts in my head.
I hate myself because I can drive out of that area everyday and put a good deal of it behind me and go on with my life. (Obviously, I can't put it all behind me, because it's weighing on me right now.)
I hate myself because I feel helpless in these types of situations. It's like I truly can't see any viable option to correct these problems.
I hate myself because so often I can look at ALL of these "Liberals, Conservatives, Community Activists, and Poor people," and these circumstances & situations and not have the same compassion that Jesus had. In fact, I can say that I hate myself because all of this demonstrates a massive lack of faith on my part. It really does. Do I really believe that God knows what he's doing, and that his kingdom can and does break in in unexpected and powerful ways regardless of my frustration and self-loathing/pity, or don't I?
I don't have to harvest everything. But I should at east try and rest in the thought that the Lord of the harvest knows his field.
"Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own." Matt. 6:34
Easier said than done. But I'll still try and pray this every day...