Do we really SEE people?

Posted on September 11, 2008 by ELCA World Hunger

I’ve seen him multiple times over the past 9 years—a man whose station in life could lend itself to invisibility quite easily but whose invisibility is a product of those around him, not his own misfortune. This man is blind.

He leans with his back against the wall, crouching slightly near the two lone payphones in the long corridor at the Washington El train stop here in Chicago. The muffled jingle of change in a tattered Styrofoam cup grows louder as one approaches him and then fades away as one quickly flies by, on the way to somewhere seemingly more important.

I bet thousands of other train-riding Chicagoans, upon hearing this story, would know exactly who I’m talking about. Like any other person who is homeless and whom we might encounter anywhere else, the call to action is simple. But do we listen to that call? More importantly, do we really SEE this man while whizzing by?

That is a personal question, one that I cannot answer for everyone, however Jesus expects us to SEE him–not to look in his general direction, but to actually SEE him. We must not contribute to an invisibility that grows exponentially by the throngs of people who pass him by without so much as a penny, a hello, or even an acknowledging glance cast in the direction of someone who may not even know it.

We raise money and work on behalf of those who are hungry and poor and, in some cases, living with disabilities. The ability to see is a gift and a responsibility, as is the ability to act. If we are blessed with either or both of these gifts, let us honor those gifts and resist the tendency to blend in with the masses for fear of missing the next train.

–Aaron Cooper is writer-editor for ELCA World Hunger

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