How the unlovely, the broken and the disadvantaged are treated is the measure of society.
If you go behind all our masks, behind the tattoos, the makeup, the hair, the gender, the orientation, the religion or non-religion, you will meet a human. Someone who breathes the air, has blood in their veins, eats, rests, and generally lives from one routine to another.
We are all human.
My eyes were opened one day when a feared gang member stopped outside a food shop to buy his lunch. What I saw that day was a person, who probably ordered and paid for his favourite sandwich, and looked forward to eating it.
A man with a hunger, a need, a desire for something, normal, satisfying.
I got to know this man in a small way over a few years, I knew him as a person who looked out for his friends, he was a caring man, he tried to protect youth when needed. He shared with me his concerns about children playing in a derelict building site. He had a desire to improve his circumstances and of those around him.
He was also a gang member, he wore a patch, I am sure he had earned it in a way I did not want to know about. He was an outcast from “normal” society.
What I mainly saw was the man, a human.
A desire to change from someone with a less than “normal” past, whether that be criminal or other anti-social background (mental health especially has a stigma that people need to overcome) requires us to change our attitude, it requires us to get out of our comfort zone to reach out to the one wanting to change.
It means taking a risk.
Unless we are prepared to take a risk to reach out to others who are different from us how can we ever expect to improve our community.
To ostracize the unlovely, the broken and the disadvantaged is an indictment on the society we live in.
We need to be a community where forgiveness is a norm, where there is acceptance of the different, and where those wishing to and needing to change can find a place to do so and people who can help.
To love the unlovely is to love your fellow human. Something we are all called to do.
Paul S Allen