Coming from a background of voluntary work has lead me to having a close relationship with the poor. I know that Rita doesn’t make it till the end of the month with the pension she receives; Anna’s husband keeps her money so unless she receives providence she has absolutely no income or way to afford buying food; at the age of twelve Teresa has to take care of her baby brothers; and Claire sees her father beating her mother regularly.
Hearing about these realities day in and day out makes me assume that many people are aware of these situations. These realities happen on an everyday basis in Malta. Yet I am learning that these realities are well hidden since I have heard many people telling me assertively that poverty does not exist on our island any more. This goes beyond party politics and political movements. This is about standing up for who we are.
My first reaction to this is anger. How can they be so quick to judge? How can they shove off the possibility that someone is starving at this very moment and has no idea how he will be feeding his children tomorrow? It hurts and angers me to hear people discussing their super busy schedules and yet be so close-minded that whatever is not their problem, does not concern them. How can people possibly say that they are not willing to vote since this election does not effect them? Don’t they feel responsible for their fellow Maltese citizens? Don’t they realise that their vote can effect the lives of others even though it does not effect them directly?
My second reaction is to stop and think: Why I am reacting in this way? I guess that this is a result that being with the poor has made me who I am today and therefore I owe them much more than I have and will ever be able to give them. They teach me what human dignity is and they help me realise that we are responsible for one another. I may not know who Paul or Michael are and yet I am responsible for their lives and well-being and I can actually help them by taking my vote seriously rather than grumbling that none of the political parties offered something for me during their campaign.
My final reaction is a realisation that I am also responsible for these people who may be good people and yet have no idea of what others are going through. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to open my eyes to cruel realities happening close to me. Yet this is not everyone’s experience. Therefore I have a duty to share these stories with people who don’t know about these realities and let them know that they actually have a way to help others. Arguing and being passionate might scare people off many times and at times, the harder yet more effective route is by living a very beautiful yet demanding life:
“Let me preach You without preaching, not by words, but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.”
Radiating Christ by Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman
Photo Credit: Benjamin Flores Martin