Recently, I had a young professional guy, actually a banker by trade, visit me at my office. Looking for business, he dropped by to explain his bank's products and services. He also came trying to figure out who we are and what we are up to as an organization. Nice guy.
In the course of our conversation he asked me what lots of people ask, "So, what do you do when a homeless person asks you for money?"
Of course, unlike lots of people, I don't have a standard answer to that question.
I told him, "In my opinion and in my experience, it seems to me that you just have to follow your heart in the moments of such encounters."
The fact is, I do different things at different times.
Later that same day I met with Dr. Ron Anderson, President and CEO at Parkland Health and Hospital System.
My purpose was to brief him on our future plans for homeless housing and our need to develop a sound business case for ending homelessness in Dallas.
As always when I have the privilege of visiting with Dr. Anderson, our conversation was wide-ranging.
In the middle of our talk, he told me that Native American thought teaches that everyone has a song and every song should be welcomed and heard.
"When another person shares their song with you, it is a precious gift and deserves to be heard, received, honored and enjoyed," he noted.
"The problem is, too often, we don't want to know or hear the songs of other people, especially the poor, the homeless and the troubled," he continued.
We don't want to hear the stories, listen to the songs or view the photos, do we? Can we keep it real here?
Out of sight, out of hearing, out of mind--no threat to my desire to control my environment, so long as I ignore what is around me.
This refusal to hear, to allow for the music from others, is the death of community.
We need the music of others, no matter what informs the lyrics or the melodies.
People need to be heard. People need to sing!
I need to hear, to see, to absorb and to confront.
Community is life lived in the music provided by others.
Silence is not golden. It is deadly.