Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How to Treat People



"Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit."
-Eli Khamarov

A priest delivered an impassioned sermon recently at which my mother was present. He spoke of his stay in Lima, Peru, and of how he was dispatched to the poorest areas. It was an entirely new experience for him and, as a privileged outsider, he fought hard to fathom the hardships that the people faced.
In one remote village he met a group of children who were living a stricken life among the worst poverty he had ever seen.
The priest decided, after he lived but a short spell in the area, that he would buy the local children something nice; he had witnessed their uninhibited joy as they tasted meat for the first time and he wished to treat them to other new delights. He told the little group that he would buy them some ice cream.
He was rather surprised when the reaction was not particularly enthusiastic but nevertheless he decided to proceed with his plan. As they all walked to the store, he repeated again that he would buy them all some tasty ice cream.
The children nodded and shrugged nonchalantly and continued to walk solemnly beside the priest. He was utterly baffled by the lack of excitement in the faces of the children. Certainly they knew what ice cream was although none of them had ever tasted any.
He halted in the street and, assuming there still was a lack of clarity in his message, said that they would all get an ice cream each and that he would pay for it from his own pocket.
At that moment one of the older children took charge and spoke up for the rest.
"Father, if you have money to buy us ice cream, would you buy us some bread instead?"
Does a word exist to personify a moment such as that? Is there even a human sound to describe such a sudden and terrible comprehension?
I fear greatly that idle treats would turn to ashes in my own mouth should I think of those young souls who were, in truth, anything but children.
Nobody demands that we more fortunate people live similar lives of deprivation: there are times when kindly consideration directed at those most in need is the least that we can do. Thought costs us nothing; it will not, in itself, provide food for the poor but with it a certain respect and dignity is handed back to those who have none- and on finding ourselves a little warmer for the thought, we might further venture to give a little more.

4 comments:

The Texican said...

Very nicely done. I have some poems on earlier posts addressing this same subject.

TheElementary said...

Thank you for your kind comment. I'll be sure to check in on some of your older writing then as well. I'm reading your work in reverse.

Karen L. Alaniz said...

Wow! That is such a moving story. Keep up the great writing! ~Karen

TheElementary said...

Karen,
thanks for your words. Your support is always appreciated :)

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