A favorite restaurant of mine sits on a busy road in the middle of a changing neighborhood. If I am looking for the best fruits in season, this is the place. If I wanted to see strong examples of traditional shop house architecture, this is at the top of the list. Temples, great food, and fruits can be found in abundance. What is also here is the seedy side of life. This neighborhood is the largest red light district on the island.
Going to dinner in this neighborhood, especially near the even avenues, is a walk of adventure. Especially on weekends, crowds of foreign workers fill the streets, the houses are busy, and business spills out to freelancers pitching their prices. It is amazing to watch, sad to think about.
Relative to similar neighborhoods in other towns, crime is relatively low. Yet, even here murders, abuse, and exploitation occur. Stories of young people, desperate to survive, come and go in the local papers at regular intervals. If I tried to describe the scenes, the words that fit best are David’s. “Full of hot air, the wicked are hot on the trail of the poor. Trip them up, tangle them up in their fine-tuned plots.” (Psalm 10.2)
I am impressed when I hear of people reaching out to help others. It is rarely natural. It takes people with intentional compassion and strong wills.
As I listen to critics, I wonder about the snares. It is not hard to realize that snares to exploit, manipulate, and use others can be found in every community. Some are constructed and maintained by my hands. I wish I could say that I was innocent. I try, yet in the darkness of the night I know the truth. When one does not get her/his way, then manipulation is a tool that is often the answer. Exploitation is at the heart of every capitalistic endeavor, often wrapped in greed. Using others is a subtle thread that finds itself in many relationships.
My goal today is to dismantle at least one of my snares.