Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My dear friends,

I hope you will take a few minutes out of a busy day to watch this video or at least part of it. My rationale follows.

It tells the story that has become familiar to me of so many in Europe. I have met, talked with, lived with, worked with, and slept in the same room for months with these folk.

The heartache is almost beyond description. Imagine, being thrown into prison because of your religion or because your parents or spouse belong to the wrong political party. You are beaten daily, starved. Quite often most or all of your fmaily is killed.

If you can escape you take a very long journey to a foreign land. Imagine if you or I had to do this. Relocate say in Central Asia, far from anyone we now. Not knowing the language, having literally nothing.

Then you are forced to fight for some help, struggle daily with hunger, fear, abandonment, and loss. This is not an exaggeration. This is real and it is every day.

This is why I keep going back to London and Amsterdam. I have met and come to know and love many individuals in this precise situation. Neither you nor I could turn our gaze away without helping.

America and its people are known for many things. One which is paramount is it innate decency. I spent close to $10 for a nice order of jumbo shrimp to take home. My netflix account brings videos to me regularly for only $14 a month. I occasionally splurge on a movie out, merely $8. If I want I can go and purchase a book for $ 8 - 25 without a blink. I can fly to Mexico for $ 400+ and do what I like. I can go to an ice restaurant and spend $100 form ore for dinner for three.

Not that I nor any of us should not enjoy the basics joys of life. It is just that I can. Yet many have a daily experience of practically nothing. If I give £ 20 to an asylum seeker in Europe ($31.39) it is so much for that individual. For us, it is so little.

I often wonder at the canned food drives, clothing collections at Christmas. Well intended and helpful, but what about the other 364 days of the year.

Several years ago I walked back from church in Chicago with a young man who had just purchased a condo for $250,000. He was ecstatic. Seeing a homeless man sitting outside McDonald's we stopped to give him something. The young man gave him a few coins & then said to me: "Well we've done our good deed for the day." He meant well, but I wanted to cry out at the top of my voice: "You've got to be kidding me." So I am sharing this.

I know good people are helping. It's just the need is so great, like a very bad tooth ache or migrane that does not go away.

Helping asylum seekers in Europe, the plight of so many in Haiti, the poor and children here in our own land. Each calls out to the heavens.

Please take no offense. I can do no other. In the homily today at Mass, the celebrant referring to the many in our city who helped those in need through two major snowstorms, reminded us that those helping see themselves no as heroes, but as humans doing what needs doing.

Just so.I am blessed with so many dear and kind friends. May peace be in your day. Thanks for listening & possibly looking at the video.


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Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.