So I’m writing a day early, because I will be staying overnight at the girls’ home tomorrow and likely won’t get a chance on the internet.
This is more of a reflection than anything… here in Cochabamba, we are confronted with injustice everyday. We are confronted with injustice wherever we are in the world. But one of the most tangible pieces of injustice that I’ve been thinking about all week is the situation of the kids here who live on the streets. After listening to the stories of Barbara and other friends who have dedicated themselves to being with and caring for these kids, I am totally overwhelmed and angry about what is happening. The majority of the public believes these are bad kids, that they are not worth caring for or fighting for. The police don’t respond to urgent calls, and guards beat them up for no apparent reason. And these kids lose their zest for life. Thank God there are people who are loving them and showing them that they matter. But it all leaves me feeling sad, and a bit helpless.
Today, Sunday, was my day off and I decided to wander downtown and do some writing in my journal in the Plaza Colon. Two boys came up to me and asked me for money, just after this gypsy woman had lured me into giving her 10Bs. I couldn’t pay them, but I did talk to them. I learned a bit about their lives, they are ages 11 and 12 and live on the street and hang out around that plaza. They were asking me lots of questions, so I told them a bit about me and where I’m from. They kept asking me about “lucha libre” and I had no idea what they were talking about and later found out it means wrestling. Who is my favourite wrestler? I have no clue. They asked if I had parents, and wanted me to take them to my house. Argh… I wish I could. They are pretty funny kids, they made me laugh and also made fun of me for my various mishaps in Spanish… I hope I see them again.
After these kind of encounters, I wonder, could I have responded differently? Should I have given them money? Bought them some food? Should I take them out for a snack if I see them again? The same gypsy lady came back while I was chatting with them and said, “Be careful, they’re bad! Guard your purse!” I wonder how I would feel if most people looked at me with fear, or with disgust and superiority, rather than as a fellow human being with my own strengths and my own brokenness. I wonder what the world would look like if we saw everyone through the eyes of Jesus – I guess justice would finally be here.
I have no answers, but I do enjoy quotes when I lack my own words. I will end by sharing one from my favourite writer, John Caputo. It fits well with my state of non-knowing:
“The very highest passion is driven by non-knowing. Its tensions are heightened and the stakes are raised when we lack assurance about what is going on, or how things will turn out, when all we can do is push on, have faith, keep going, love and trust the process about which we lack any final assurance. Passion falls back on faith and faith is a kind of passion. Passion is guided by faith and faith is driven by passion, and this passionate faith is what gives life savor and salt.”
I am grateful, amidst the confusion, to be surrounded by passionate, faithful people.
Peace and love,