The other evening something inside my exercise machine broke that could not easily be repaired. After seven years of heavy use, it was time to go and buy a replacement. After doing my research online, I located a store in the downtown portion of my city that had what I wanted and at a reasonable price. This downtown area is not a place that I travel to very often. In fact, it has been years since I had any business there. As I set out from my neighborhood and started into my drive, it was just 20 minutes later that I turned off the highway into a different world. The inner city. Rampant poverty just stewed in the air. Tenament buildings. Trash lining the sidewalks in piles. More establishments boarded up than open. Graffitti on every wall. I thought to myself how I wouldn't want to be caught anywhere near this part of town after dark. There seemed to be a host of sketchy looking people just milling about everywhere I turned.
Something inside of me recoiled at my own thoughts. Those "sketchy" looking people are no different than me. Most of them are hard working folks, who do their best to support their families, and make the most of the lives that they have. In large part, what separates them from me is the opportunities that I have had in my life and the size of my paycheck. When measured against them, there is nothing so special about me that gives me any more intrinsic worth or value. Come to think of it, what specifically about them made me so uneasy? The clear answer is that they weren't caucasian and weren't wealthy. I find it chilling to realize how much of a racist and how much of an elitist that I can be when left to my own thoughts.
I find that I spend the majority of my time around folks just like me. An ilk that is privileged, affluent, highly educated, and cultured. In such an environment it is so easy to become jaded, snobbish, and haughty, to press to isolate myself from the lower class masses. My patrician to their plebian. It is only when I leave my safe, secure, and sheltered world do I get a glimpse into what, for the majority of people on this planet, is the real world. My trip downtown opened my eyes a bit and reminded me of how fortunate I am to get to do what I do. More than that though, it reminded me that we are all God's children. All equally loved. All equally valuable.