I was reminded last night of the importance of listening to someone’s story before making up one of your own. Over my lifetime I have developed a deep appreciation for music, music of all genres. That is, except for rap. Last night I watched an interview with Jay-z, and, while I still won’t rush out and buy rap, the genre makes more sense to me now. His background gives reason for his huge popularity and I applaud his success and giving back to the community.
Everyone has a story and many times it is what defines who they are and what they do with their lives. It can drive their passion for what they are doing, or it can suck it out of them. Circumstance and their ability to make good choices and rise above the situation determines where they arrive in life.
An example of this are the homeless in our communities. I hear the comments about drugs being the reason they are on the street now. That for many is why they are there now, but was it drugs that took them there? However, some are persons with a learning or physical disability that has made it difficult to get and keep employment, others have mental illness. There are also the working poor, who, because of circumstance, can find minimum wage work but cannot find housing.
There is a fine line between helping and enabling. Currently we are assisting with food, temporary cold weather accommodation, showers, clothing, and spare change. But, what are we doing to change their circumstance?
Desmond Tutu said, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”
We need to listen to the stories, appreciate where they have been, find the real need, before we can move them forward. Anything else will not change the circumstances and only create a hole for others to fall into.
Listen to the story.
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