After spending over twenty years on the streets of Raleigh, NC as a firefighter, I know a little about the homeless and poor population of our fair city. There are addicts, alcoholics, the abused and the used. And, many of them have one thing in common: no hope. You can see in their eyes if you ever bother to notice them. These are people who life has beaten down, broken and left in the gutter to die and, if they dare to have any hope, it is rapidly crushed.
Hope may not seem like much to most of us. But, then we have a surplus of the emotion. Don’t think so? Take my case for example. I’m on my second round of chemotherapy for colon cancer, which was originally diagnosed in 2007. I have hope because I have family and friends who support me; a job that provides me with decent insurance, which ensures I get excellent care; a home where I can recover from my treatments in comfort and safety; doctors and nurses who are dedicated to providing that care and a faith that tells me even if all that fails, it’s not the end. I am extremely blessed and privilged. But, start taking those elements away, and my hope would start to dwindle. Take away enough (or particular ones) and I could easily wind up homeless and bereft of hope. It’s a funny thing, this hope; when it’s there, you don’t even notice it. When it’s gone…, well, that’s a different story, isn’t it?
The title of this post is “I Hope…”. Those three little dots after hope denote more to come on the subject. So, here are some things I hope for: I hope that, one day, no one will be homeless. I hope that, one day, no one will be hungry. I hope that, one day, instead of doing violence to our enemies, we will sit down with them in love and hash out our differences. I hope that, one day, everyone will be free to love and marry whoever they please. I hope that, one day, we will actually begin to care for those less fortunate, and not just give lip service to the idea. Finally, I hope that we will start to understand what the Gospel really means.
For us relatively well off white people, the true nature of the Gospel ought to be scary as hell. We are the privileged class that Jesus often referred to in less than polite terms (i.e. brood of vipers). We’re more in line with the Pharisees and the Romans than we the Disciples. And, way too many of us are like the rich, young man who was told by Jesus to sell everything he owned and follow Him; that was too much for him and he walked away sad. Until we are willing to sell everything we have and truly follow Jesus and not the various constructs we’ve built around him, those things aren’t going to happen. Either that, or the poor and oppressed will rise up and throw off their oppressors in a revolution that will make the French and the Russian revolutions look like a Saturday afternoon touch football game.