Sharing our stories

I caught a segment of Campbell Live (Monday 10th June). John Campbell was sharing the stories of Christchurch’s most vulnerable living in caravans and sub-standard accommodation. He was also following up these stories – demanding we listen, demanding we act.

By the end of the half-hour episode, many had offered support and accommodation. My faith in humanity was strengthened. This world is full of good people.

Often, their goodness and charity is not revealed because they have not heard the stories; have not had the opportunity to say, “I can help.” When people do respond, their generosity and goodness seem limitless.

Stories are shared in many ways. Conversation. Letter. E-mail. Blogs and websites. Local newspapers and community broadsheets. TV, with slots such as ‘Good Sorts’ and consumer watchdogs, such as ‘Fair Go’. We are called to listen to these stories – attentively.

Sharing our stories is not easy. We have to put aside pride and admit that we are dependent, interdependent. We have to say, “I cannot do this alone.” But as soon as we do, as soon as we have the courage to share our own story, we realise we are not alone. We open ourselves to receive grace – mediated through good people.

Sometimes the stories we hear demand urgent and immediate action.

Sometimes the story simply needs to be heard – the teller affirmed; given a witness to their life.

Sometimes the storyteller invites us to become an integral part of the story.

I can hear people saying, “Yeah. I hear you. But it’s not my responsibility. I pay taxes. The government needs to step up to the plate.” The government, both central and local, are our elected representatives. They do not always hear the stories. We are at ground level. We need to listen wholeheartedly, attentively, to the stories we are told. We must respond and become advocates for the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the burdened.

Each of us must show government officials how we want them to act: we must model affirmative, compassionate action – with charity, with justice, with transparency and honesty.

Each of us must demonstrate by our everyday actions and reactions who we feel should be our priority: those who cannot speak for themselves; those who are hungry, homeless, helpless, disheartened.

Each of us must show how we want local and central government to spend our taxes by using our own monies to advantage the disadvantaged.

I can hear the cynics say, “If we keep doing it, Government won’t, and the burden on charities and churches, families and individuals, will increase.” They are probably right but it is not our problem. We are called, commanded, impelled by our baptism, to be the hands of God; to reveal the heart of God.

Each of us must do what is right.

We are called to be ‘good people.’

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