On my way to work this morning I saw three men and one woman bicycling in Koreatown–around 4th and Wilton. I don’t know much about bicycles, but they were cool, the vintage types with baskets in the back. From the looks of it, it seemed like these people were hauling plants that they had bought. I don’t know why but this made me smile. I wish I had a camera on me. Wait, who am I kidding? Even if I was holding a camera, I probably wouldn’t have had the speed and coordination to take a good shot while driving. I guess you just had to be there.
A couple months ago a friend of mine invited me to a CD release party. I hadn’t heard of the artist but my interest was piqued when I read that all the proceeds for the night would be going to IMHO (International Medical Health Organization), a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to developing and providing health care in under-served regions. All the money collected from this particular night would be used to meet the urgent needs of displaced Sri Lankan refugees.
I was a little skeptical going in but I walked out inspired. I was reminded of the power of words when they come from a place of honesty. I was touched by the capability of the human heart to love when we focus on others. I learned about Sri Lanka. Before that night, I had no clue that 300,000 people are displaced in their own country because of a civil war that has been going on for two decades. I learned that up until a few months ago, children had to quench their thirst by cupping their hands into muddy water because clean water was nowhere to be found.
I thought of all the water I drink—coming from bottles, dispensers, and a special filter in my home. My heart ached at the gap between the two worlds. I have. They have not. And I wondered what God is thinking when He looks down on us, how His creation is fighting and keeping each other from drinking clean water.
But all the thoughts running through my head were simple and not really profound. It’s easy to be in a room full of people who are looking for a good way to spend their time and money, to pat myself on the back and think that I’ve contributed to a good cause. It’s easy to gasp at research and PowerPoint presentations that clearly chart out the disparity between my world and those living in a third world country.
But what about the souls that are muddied right next to me? What about the homeless men and women I drive by going to and from work? My neighbor who needs my help? This is the hard part. And then it hit me. It doesn’t matter how much I “feel” for those in another country or people around me, or how much my heart “aches” at the mention of the horrible statistics. If I don’t do anything about it, it doesn’t really matter. Compassion needs to come out of my everyday being, not just when I’m giving $10 to a good cause.
I know I’ve failed many times, but I hope to live a life where my actions would ring louder than the guilty sirens that go off in my head every so often.