On Monday my ailing van refused to start while I was in south Fargo. Considering that campus is in north Fargo, I felt this slight helplessness rise in my spine. I decided to catch the bus, but missed it by two minutes, so I walked back to campus…38 city blocks. Exhausting, but not too bad. Due to some inconvenient circumstances, it wasn’t until Thursday that I was able to get my van back to campus. In the meantime I had to take the bus on Wednesday to donate plasma on the other side of town.
I’m not used to using public transportation, and so riding the bus downtown to transfer onto another bus was sort of scary to me, but I made it. But on my rides I was more concerned about the other people riding the bus. I don’t want to sound condescending, but my heart bled for these people. They all seemed, so, I don’t know, less privileleged than me. What hit me most was when I was waiting for the bus on the way back, I was standing next to a shopping cart in the shelter. There was no one with the cart, but it had a ragged old blanket and a few boxes of crackers and a trashbag. It was pretty obvious to me that some less fortunate soul’s livelihood was in the cart. I know that there about 3,000 homeless people in Fargo on any given night, but this was real. I was standing next to someone’s shelter and meals and warmth and all of it was in a shopping cart.
I am convinced that God made me experience this for a reason. Most of us are so messed up. We talk about homelessness and poverty, setting up displays in our million-dollar, newly renovated student union, and then drive home in our fancy new cars, while we completely ignore the needs of the people that we market as needing help. We pay the president of our university more than the President of the United States, we pay our athletes millions of dollars and build them new multi-million dollar stadiums to play in while people live out of shopping carts in a bus stop because they can’t afford anything better! This is so ridiculous. James says in James 1:27 that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Or how about this in Deuteronomy? “There should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you.” (Deut. 15:4) God has blessed us beyond all compare. We have so much to give, and yet we still let people go hungry and buy ourselves new big screen tv’s. Deuteronomy 15:11 also says, “There will always be poor people in your land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded to your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
How can we ignore all of this stuff going on around us? I want to make it clear that I am just as guilty as the next man, but that is no excuse not to take action. We have the ability to alleviate some suffering, so why aren’t we?