I've seen it deeply, indelibly etched on the faces of literally thousands of our neighbors as they sit in the waiting area of our food pantry on Haskell Avenue in inner city East Dallas.
You can't miss it if you stop long enough to take it in.
Even beneath the smiles of courtesy and politeness, the deep facial lines, chiseled by a long, long bout with continual disappointment and the limitations imposed by chronic, unrelenting poverty, remain.
Sadness that spills over into the lives of children early on.
Sadness that imposes limits, curtails expectations, and that all too often pools up at depths sufficient to swamp an otherwise promising life.
Sadness creates cesspools of hopelessness and resignation.
The variety of sadness I've observed again and again in the inner city demands a life-patience beyond my capacity to comprehend.
Most of my middle class and upper class friends have no clue. More significantly, we go to great lengths to dispel any notion of sadness.
Sadness discomforts us.
We avoid it at costs.
We even attempt to "shew it away" whenever we see it!
This ignorance arises from a basic inexperience in waiting for anything, especially the necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, education, employment, safety, health care, recreation, entertainment, celebration, civic life and organization, public engagement, to name a few.
Most of us wait for very little.
The patient response of the poor to the overwhelming sadness of so much of life lived in poverty contributes to the maintenance of social stability.
While we should be grateful, most of us remain unknowing.
Poverty creates a foreboding culture defined largely by deep, thick sadness.
Good news to the poor always involves driving the sadness out of life--a mission that can be accomplished only in a community that embraces sadness. To deliver hope a community must live out of a commitment to understanding, honest self-evaluation, and radical dependence on those who know this sadness best, those who live it out every day.
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Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
Today and throughout 2013, we need your support to continue our life-changing work in inner-city Dallas. Every day hundreds of our wonderful neighbors arrive at our doors seeking our assistance, offering their help and prepared to pursue a better life. Frankly, the folks we "serve" make essential contributions to the scope, nature and soul of the work we attempt. At CitySquare we honor and recognize the amazing value and richness of our low-income neighbors. During 2012, almost 55,000 different people received the benefit of our wide-ranging services designed to assist in the process of building better lives. We need your help TODAY as we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Even more, we need you to become our PARTNER in the work of compassion and community renewal--work that continues day after day at CitySquare.