Sunday, September 19, 2010

.invisible people.

In recent years I've spent a lot of time talking about and attempting to live out a core value of mine: that human life is valuable.
In Amsterdam our cleaner ministry provided us with many opportunities to connect with people who may otherwise have had nowhere else to sleep and no food to eat. It was a joy to get to know their stories and hear how they came to be part of the Shelter community, and also to provide a place for them to get back on their feet.  My heart began to be transformed to love those to whom I previously paid little attention.
In my time at the CPCC we showed that we valued life with our goal of making abortions unnecessary, valuing the life of the unborn.  At the same time, we valued the lives of the women and men who came into our Centre, helping them as best we could.
At Awaken, my small group was part of a community supper in Bowness, and we had the opportunity to get to know a number of people in the neighbourhood over dinner.  It was wonderful to connect with these people there, but to also bump into them outside of this context and develop some friendships.  These are people who are largely ignored (let's be honest; how often do you really take the time to stop and chat with whoever you pass on the street? it just doesn't happen, no matter who it is.) but who have valuable stories to share.
It's interesting, not to mention heartbreaking, to read studies that show that homeless people and drug addicts don't even register as people in our brains; we recognize them as objects.  And yet these are people who deserve to be treated with care and love, the same as anyone else, if not more-so.  I can imagine how desperately they would long for a kind human touch, to be looked upon as someone who is valued.  Instead they're spat upon, beaten, ignored.
As a Christian, I need to check myself.  Am I noticing the "invisible" people around me?  Am I sharing a kind word with them, offering them a cup of coffee, a chance to chat.  Or am I too busy to take the time to do more than smile and say hello.
Jesus reminds us that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for him.
One of the ways I'm trying to help the least of these is by writing my MP to encourage the government to stop taking legal action against InSite, Vancouver's safe injection site.  I believe that it is a fundamental right of Canadians to receive healthcare, and at InSite they receive care, kindness, and are given dignity as humans.  Additionally, there are many benefits to InSite on financial and harm-reduction levels that our government should appreciate, rather than waste our money trying to shut down a program that is a positive addition to many otherwise dark and hopeless lives.
If you want to read some research, or hear from the perspective of a Christian nurse working at InSite, check out my friend Meera's blog, as well as this site.
Please write your MP and help change our government's mind.

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