I tend to ignore my sickness until my body absolutely forces me to deal with it. This happened last week when I decided to eat raw tomatoes turning my body into one big hive. For 4 days I itched beyond anything I've experienced before. Red and swollen, I made my way to the doctor's office for a steroid shot to deal with something I should have been forward-thinking enough to prevent on my own.
See, I've got a lot of food sensitivities, but my allergies usually don't manifest in such a blatant way. Unfortunately, this is what happens when we ignore an issue: it festers and manifests in such a way that we are unable to ignore it any longer.
The same could be said for a variety of issues: fair wages, discrimination, racism, and evenhomelessness.
Bear with me on this, because I know it may seem like a stretch.
I drove by a bus stop last night that caught me off guard to such a point that I had to pull around and take a picture of it.
Notice in the picture above, the bars placed over the bench. To some, it might seem like a nice addition; a way to ensure three people feel comfortable sitting there. When I look at this bench, I see a mother unable to sit next to her children, a permanently empty middle seat, and most of all, a place where no one would be able to lie down.
Ultimately, I believe that to be the reason these bars appeared: to prevent homeless people from sleeping on bus stop benches.
Let's as ourselves: does this actually solve anything? Does this help homeless people find a place to rest? Does it give them a safe shelter? Or does it force people to find another place to go; somewhere less visible so we don't have to feel uncomfortable knowing that there is suffering around us.
The truth is, there is suffering all around us. People try and ignore it, cover it up, or put on a pleasant face, but how many injustices are simply covered up with "solutions" that cause more problems (like bars on a bench), or ignored (like the racial divide in America).
How long do we ignore an illness before we finally deal with it? For me and my hives, it was 4 days too long. For our nation, it has been decades of racial tension and injustice. For our communities, it has been an epidemic of homelessness and an unwillingness to truly walk with those in need.
It is time we stopped ignoring the problems around us. As difficult as it is, we must face the needs of others around us, as well as our personal needs that seem too painful to manage. It is time we get healthy, feel confident in our purpose, and set out to help those in need. Go. Make friends with someone new. Don't fear the homeless. Don't fear those of different races. Don't fear the suffering you have ignored. It is only when we confront a need that we can truly begin to work on meeting that need; and it is then that we can begin to heal as a nation, a community and together as individual souls on a journey.