I never realized how passionate I am about mission, about equal opportunities for all, and about proudly standing up for those in a vulnerable state. My heart longs to continue to help others in a powerful and meaningful way.
As I was at the cafe around the corner, about to order a cup of tea, I started having a conversation with a woman who was also in line. After telling her a little bit about what GO does, we began talking about creating positive change, working together as one to reach a common goal. We ordered our tea and stood together with our cups in hand continuing to talk. We started talking about communities, the formation of GO community and integrating GO into the Vancouver community. We got on to the topic of poverty and the formation of communities that happens in multiple different places on the street. As were were talking this woman said, and I quote "well, those street people smell, and have no jobs. they got themselves in that position, so they can get themselves out. why would you want to associate with them?".
WHAT?! Did that just come out of your mouth?!
If that didn't get my blood pumping I don't know what will! The minute I heard the word smell, no job and them, my blood was rushing to my head, my heart was pumping, and I think I was about to explode. I had to take a deep breath. Many deep breaths. Clearly this individual is so self absorbed that she didn’t realize the words that came out of her mouth.
I paused long and hard before I spoke. I didn't even know really what to say, and was surprised to hear the words come out of my mouth. I looked her in the eye and said "because they are God's children. Whether they have showered, own a home, or have a job, each and everyone of them are worthy and belong".
With a very stunned look on her face, she looked at me and said, "go on"
At first I was a hesitant, not sure if she was being rude or genuine, but thought to myself, this is my opportunity to change this woman's perspective, and so I invited her to have a seat and I carried on. I talked about how fortunate we are that we are blessed with food and shelter, jobs and benefits, but these things do not make us any different from those that do not have. We are all human beings. We are all one big family in this world and so let's start treating one another that way. Let's start treating one another like we all belong. That we are all welcome. I encouraged this woman to throw away the 'us vs. them' mentality, and starting thinking of all those within the community as 'us together; all individuals with many different stories'. I encouraged this woman to have a new perspective, to change her outlook and to use words that are uplifting rather then degrading. I'll never forget learning 'dirty vs. used', when thinking of a fork that someone has eaten off of. How easy words can come out of our mouths and not realizing how they can affect others.
The conversation was over an hour. She asked questions, pondered, and from her facial expressions I could tell her wheels were turning. She shared stories of her family, her life and how she has had little experience working with those in poverty and/or living on the street. She shared her stereotypes, asked questions on how to break those stereotypes down, and acknowledged that she is closed minded and needs her walls broken. I shared with her my e-mail, in hopes that she may reach out and we can connect again.
It is my hope that she left realizing what a wonderfully diverse culture we live in, filled with many different people, all with unique backgrounds and personalities. That even though there those within the same community, some who are struggling, and some who are not, and whose life stories are far different from one another, may we someday realize, we are all beautifully made by God.
And so today, my $4.00 cup of tea turned cold by the time our conversation was over, but I think this woman left transformed and with a new perspective on the world we live in. I walked away with a smile on my face and realization that I helped create a small difference within the life of someone else. I now pray our conversation stirs deep within her heart, and opens her eyes to all the members of her home community.