August 30, 2011

Revealing a Secret (Day 39 - August 30, 2011)

I've been keeping a secret from you, and I've just decided that I should come clean.  However, before I tell you what it is, I need you to know that there is a point to this sharing . . . I'm not looking for pity or sympathy or anything like that.   Okay?  Okay.

Here it is . . . I've been receiving communications, usually anonymous, that I consider to be "hate mail".  Thankfully, there have only been a handful so far, but I know there will be more.  For some reason, there is a portion of the population that is either so angry, so disturbed, or so otherwise aligned that it makes sense to them to attack another person.

I should make it perfectly clear that I do not have any difficulty with people expressing different opinions, and fully expect that many people will disagree with me.  In this regard, I have had some wonderful exchanges with people . . . wonderful in the sense that they were respectful and civil even if we did not see eye to eye.

I know . . . you're dying to find out . . . "What sort of hate mail . . . What did they say?"  I'd be curious, too.  While I don't want to dignify them by repeating exactly what they said, I can tell you a little about them.  Some of the ones with nicer language called me a "complete idiot", "misguided", an "absolute joke" and my personal favourite . . . "a twit" (. . . we don't use this one very much anymore).  The harsher ones included suggesting that I am delusional, under the influence of Evil, and doing this project totally for the money.  Silly me, I hadn't realized there was a lot of money in poverty.  Oh . . . and I must not forget (although I would like to) . . . I was the victim of a Twitter attack that was one of the most vulgar, profanity-filled things I have ever read.  Interestingly, the five "attacks" were spread through different medium . . . two e-mail, one Twitter, one print media, and one blog comment.

I believe we can learn from every experience if we are open to it.  For one thing, I've learned some new swear words, to be sure.  And, I've also learned that poverty is God's wrath on people, which is why more people who are not of the Judeo-Christian fold are in poverty. (NOT!! NOT!! NOT!!  But that is what I was told by one person.)  But seriously, I have learned that you have to develop a tough skin to put yourself "out there" as there are people who will take shots at you.

It's this learning that leads me to having shared this with you.  I had thought to keep my mouth shut because I mistakenly thought it had nothing to do with me experiencing an element of poverty.   However, it then occured to me that it has EVERYTHING to do with the poverty experience.  For absolutely no fault of theirs, homeless people experience prejudice, discrimination, and abuse simply for being.  Homeless people, particularly those on the street who are interacting more with mainstream society, get insulted and treated as something less than human all the time.

As I said, I don't want you to feel sorry for me or anything because a handful of people with problems decided to send some daggers my direction.  I'm a big boy and, while it does hurt when it happens, I can shake it off.  Besides it happens far more to others.  But there is something I would like you to do.  Regard those who are in poverty, whether that be homeless or otherwise, as your equal.  In other words, SEE the person inside and not their situation.  Perhaps that means giving a warm smile . . . not crossing the street to avoid them . . . helping an organization dealing with the poor . . . or actively standing up and saying that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated anywhere anytime to anyone.

Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

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  1. Thanks for sharing, Sean -- and for making yourself vulnerable to these kinds of attacks. Sort of reminds me of a Lisa Simpson- Art Garfunkel-John Oates concert that doesn't go over well. Lisa asks, 'Why did they come to our concert just to boo us?' Or when people booed Andrew Dice Clay when he hosted Saturday Night Live. His retort? 'You're the kinda people who go into the bathroom just to smell other people's crap, then you complain about the smell!' If they don't like what you're doing, why don't they visit some pro-poverty websites instead!?!

  2. it is teally disturbing and sad that you are getting this hate mail...stay strong...we know your intentions..and i read this i am convinced you are not trying to become a millionaire!!! (pathetic attempt at sarcasm)
    hold tight...this too shall pass

  3. Unfortunately there are people in society that need to prey on the weak and vulnerable in order to make themselves feel better about themselves... They are generally insecure and unhappy in their own lives, but feel guilty because they have so much more than a homeless person (yet they are insecure and unhappy anyway). Anyway, these are the people who we should pity.

  4. The worth of any comment can easily be valued by the language that it is coached in.
    To create something of value out of garbage (as you have with those comments)is a gift from God.
    Bless you.

  5. Thanks to all of you for your comments . . . some good wisdom there.

    I have three quotes close to mind that help me when I receive troubling communications. The first comes from Edward Blake (1833 - 1912), whom I don't know much about except what I saw on Wikipedia but I like this quote:

    "As far as I can judge, not much good can be done without disturbing something or somebody."

    And, the second comes from one my best friends, whom shall remain nameless to protect confidentiality:

    "If you're not ticking somebody off, then you're not trying hard enough."

    (The latter is partially tongue in cheek, but partially truth . . . if you're only getting out to "friendlies" then you're not really getting out there.)

    The third comes from the Romans 12:20 (the following being the version found in The Message):

    "Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good."

    And now I can add a couple of more gems from Rob . . . albeit from unlikely sources . . . Lisa Simpson and Andrew Dice Clay!

    Thanks, again!!