I’ve seen a lot of different things on New York subways. From kids on the way home from music school; singing, reveling in the journey they share with friends, and pushing it other on, to performers struggling to earn a quarter or two, through the homeless and their advocates struggling to have enough food and warmth, the show never stops. Everything can and does happen – good, bad, humorous, confusing, and scary.
In general, New Yorkers are a tolerant bunch. People take the time to observe and they are far more compassionate than anyone has a right to expect. Yet there is a change from the days before 9/11. I see individuals willing to put themselves at risk. If someone is in danger, individuals act. If someone is putting others at risk, people act. If someone is in need, individuals respond. In each case, compassion, community, and a willingness to do something without any apparent thought of recognition or reward wins out over complacency, ambivalence, and selfishness.
I know the sound and intensity of a critic’s voice. It hurt then and it still does now. Yesterday shapes your and my willingness to act today. The challenge then and now is simply is this the time? In this moment, place, and time, does someone need the help that only I can provide?
The call, then and now, was to act in compassion, love, and mercy – for all. The call is not to disrupt for the sake of disruption, change for the sake of change, or push for the sake of pushing others out of their comfort zones.
The call is here; to defend the helpless, help those who have no power to help themselves, and lift the weak. When God says, “I've been quiet long enough. I've held back, biting my tongue. But now I'm letting loose, letting go, like a woman who's having a baby—stripping the hills bare, withering the wildflowers, drying up the rivers, turning lakes into mudflats.” (Isaiah 42.14, 15) It is an invitation for us to enable the best in our community, now.
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