Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mountains and Molehills

This week I met a man who believed there was no point in creating affordable housing because, the root cause of poverty (and pretty much all the world’s problems) was over population. He suggested a voluntary moratorium on reproduction, which he readily admits would be ignored. There really is no humane or ethical human solution to this underlying problem. The problem will perhaps one day be corrected through acts of nature and evolution... but this is most definitely out of our hands.

We, too often rally ourselves to inaction by the overwhelming nature of root causes. Too many, too much, too big, too powerful, even too small… brings us to despair a problem and surrender before the (good) fight has even begun. We see a mountain before us blocking our progress… so daunting the task that we forget that even the weakest of us can pick up a single stone and move it. With enough hands (helpers) and/or enough time we can move our mountain, or at least enough of it to allows us to get to where we need to be. Whether it is bringing an end to the epidemic of homelessness; or a personal goal that seems insurmountable, one need only take on the task a step (stone) at a time. Each time you complete one thing in the effort towards your goal you have something to be proud of and heartened by. I’m not telling you anything new here… self-help gurus have been saying this stuff for decades. This is simply a repeat of ancient wisdom from many cultures; the Buddhists say “A journey of one thousand miles is begun with a single step”.

There is a prayer used by A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) which carries a very potent life lesson, it is called the Prayer of Serenity
                              God grant me the serenity (peace) to
                                      accept the things I cannot change
                               The courage to change the things I can
                                      and the wisdom to know the difference.

Not knowing the difference is where too many people fail and frustrate themselves. I cannot make everyone tolerant and accepting of street people or even each other… I can only share what I know about the shelter life and hope it helps you to understand. Then maybe you will share what you have learned and this will help one other person gain understanding and tolerance.
I cannot wave a magic wand and place all shelters under the diversification model, which I know will shorten stays and enhance successful outcomes for the clients. But I can share what I have learned with academics, policy makers and agencies; so they have this information to factor into strategies for service delivery in future.
I know I cannot move a mountain, by willing, wishing or praying. But I have faith enough to know that; every day I can take one stone way from the mountain (take one action to make the world a tiny bit better)… I can ask you to take one with you as you pass by. With power of purpose and persistence of effort, over time even the mightiest mountain will fall. Whatever your mountain, if your purpose is good, the Creator will give you the strength and the tools, that you will need move ahead. Never give up on the things your heart knows are right. Have a joyous day.

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