Wednesday, June 01, 2005

At my new charity work, I am a body not a brain. How much work can I process and accomplish within the rules? No one cares about my life or thoughts or anything other than the work I churn out.

Millions of people live like this.

The paid employees at the charity are there to learn work skills of responsibility. For the employees, coming to work on time and doing the assigned tasks are the skills which may help them succeed in the world. All are adults, none are very young, all have long histories of substance abuse, unemployment and distress. I'm not a leader. I'm one of the workers albeit one who isn't getting paid. A big difference between us is that I am able to count on having groceries without the charity's paycheck.

Before someone suggests how dilettante-y this is, I am aware I am only dipping a safe toe into a world of poverty.

However, because I live a rarefied life of three meals a day, a safe home, healthcare and so on, I need to have contact with those who do not. We are all in this together and if I separate myself from others, I may lose my compassion. Or, start to think that because of my circumstances that I am more valuable than those who don't have what I have. Or, I may not even notice the have-nots. And because Jesus said to get with the folks.

I began noticing the differences between my usual work and the charity work yesterday. I'm sure I'll observe more but my observations today are:

I'm not in charge. My leadership skills aren't needed.
My personal life isn't interesting.
My humor, personal style and advice don't matter.
My education and world view don't matter.

I'm not putting myself down. It's my body and strength that are valued. Do I do the work assigned? Do I help the organization or cause trouble?

I'm liking this. It's different. Makes my world larger to try to see the world as the workers see it without teaching them. I'm not the teacher, they are. I have no seniority, no standing there.

More later.
With a grateful heart, I am,


SpookyRach said...


How easy is it not to notice the have-nots? Sadly, I find it pretty easy. My middle class eyes just skim right past and never really see.

What was it about "spewing the lukewarm out of my mouth"?

PPB said...

What kind of charity work are you doing? It sounds really cool that you are totally side by side.

Heather said...

Doing this is a very very good thing. How precious it is for you to lose your platform, stretch into a new role, and have your identity re-aligned as someone seen and known by some of the "invisible" but best people on earth.