Putting a Name and a Face to an Issue

I heard a sermon some months ago in which the speaker said that rather than speak abstractly about the need to help the poor, we should have an answer to “What are the names of the poor whom you know?”

I read an article last week in my trusty Washington Post. It’s about a maintenance man who has worked faithfully in a residential high-rise in the D.C. area but whom is being sent back to Spain for immigration issues.  It tells how the building residents (and others) are fighting for him to be able to stay.

This line captured me: “Even as anti-immigrant sentiment has swelled in large swaths of the country, many communities are willing to do battle for individual immigrants who have become part of their lives.”

For it says everything about the need for us to know people, not issues.  That’s why telling stories matters.

I’ve recently been involved in editing a book, Hope Realized, by shaping stories of recovery for 25 brave people who have come out of addictions to drugs and/or alcohol (most of whom were also homeless, for a brief time or up to decades).  The organization that has helped them so faithfully and effectively (> 90% sobriety a year after completing the program and many people buying their own homes) is called Samaritan Inns.  It’s in D.C.  Check it out at www.samaritaninns.org.  The stories blew me away, and they’ll do the same for you.  Get in touch with Samaritan Inns to buy a copy of the book for a donation of $25 (or $25,000 if you have it; they could put the money to good use).  You’ll meet Ruby, Martelis, Delshawn, Paul, David, Jerome, Floretta and 18 more people who changed my life.

amazing stories

The reason individual stories matter is that individual people matter.  But stories also matter because they really do connect us to an issue, give it a face, make us care.  And then hopefully, make us do something.

We can’t solve every issue.  But we can work damn hard on one issue.  What’s yours?

Or befriend one person.  What’s your friend’s name?

~ by Cary on November 21, 2010.

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