I’m reblogging this piece now, because it hasn’t left my mind since I saw it. I have found myself thinking about this pair and their chalked out home for the last few days. The image is arresting. But I didn’t want to fall into the mental trap of “Oh, how tragic. How can children live this way?” Not that we shouldn’t react this way, but how often have I reacted and not really looked more closely to consider who I’m looking at? I wasn’t even sure I wanted to merely respond with money to some charitable organization like Heifer International, which for the record is an incredible institution.They are truly helping people become self-sufficient. I wanted to look at this image and really think about this pair. Not as a socio-political statement, but for who they may be and what is happening for them in their current situation.
Every one of us is on a journey of one kind or another. None of us can truly know what lessons or discoveries are being made by other people, on their very specific pathway. Nor, I think, do we have the right to judge that journey. Life is given to us and we each must figure out what we’ll do with it. My lessons aren’t your lessons and vice versa. I believe we can support, encourage, love each other along the way, but the interpretation of the experience is for each of us to make. So then, I am on my journey and I am faced with this photo I can’t stop thinking about.
The girl in particular really captured me. Left with nothing, she is quite literally using her mind and hands to create for herself what does not exist. Her imagination is powerful enough not to be shut down by having nothing. This isn’t a small thing. This may be the essence of life sitting there with chalk in her hands. Despite all reasons to despair she draws. She does not give up on a vision. She holds it steady and begins to create, though many would simply find it painful to even contemplate. She is hope personified. She is the power of life to persist when circumstances should say otherwise. She is the deep green weed growing up through cracked cement. She defies her circumstances, at least, in the sense her mind is anything but asleep.
Maybe she loves her brother, maybe he’s not her brother at all, maybe she just feels like drawing, but she most definitely planned on giving this make believe bed to the boy. And so, she is not merely creative and intelligent, she is also big hearted. She offers comfort in a place where there is none. This is what we are all made of. We are not callousness and anger, fear and poverty. Not really. At our core exists this little girl in all of us. The capacity to give, love and create, no matter how much has been lost and no matter how dire the circumstances. It is unclear if the boy even knows she’s doing it, but I believe completely they are both impacted by her gesture.
“So shines a good deed in a weary world.” Shakespeare
There is absolutely no doubt this image should make us all take pause that children should live with so little and under such conditions. We all have the ability to do something, even if it’s small, to impact the lives of those less fortunate. I also think this image should inspire. That regardless what you face you are never without tools, meager as they may seem. You can create worlds, even when you have nothing material, with what is inside you. You can look for hope, even when all seems as if you should despair. Your hands are never empty of what love and comfort you can give yourself and others.
Thank you to A Small Act of Kindness Can Bring Smile On Million Faces blog for posting.