On Tuesday 22 October, I was in the midst of grading papers in the hotspot of Germantown MC civilization - the cafeteria. Suddenly, a mustard yellow peacoat-clad person materialized and commenced hopping about and waving her hands to get people's attention. Many an irritated or curious face turned her way to see what she was about. She explained that the Help the Homeless Walk was taking place on campus, and walkers were needed.
After she finished speaking, most people went back to their original activities, their expressions indifferent. Disheartened, she then went around to various tables asking others to sign up to walk. I saw looks of disgust on people's faces; commentary emerged from at least two tables that they didn't have enough time (as they sat viewing intellectually stimulating episodes of Adventure Time on YouTube) or didn't care about the homeless. Incredulous, I went over to sign up. After taking less than 5 minutes to register, I then took only 13 minutes (I timed it on my handy dandy phone) to walk around campus and complete the mini scavenger hunt. A total of less than 20 minutes. What is that in comparison to the average of several hours we spend on social media, texting and television? The reaction of many of the people in the cafeteria that day got me thinking - what is it about so many people in the 18-35 year old (and older) category that just doesn't seem to care about others?
Here's what they gave you for participating - a free t-shirt, a button, and candy! Plus, all MC students could participate in the walk completely free. How easy is that?
Yes, there are a plethora of passionate young adults who enjoy helping care for the needy. But some days, it seems like they're outnumbered by those of us who could care less. Is it our youth? Do we think that because we're young, nothing of the sort affects us in any way? Is it because it doesn't affect us that we don't take any action against poverty and homelessness? Do we expect somebody else to do it? The reasons (excuses?) are as endless and diverse as the MC student population.
The wonderful ladies from the MoCo Coalition for the Homeless.
Now, I'm not perfect either. I've avoided eye contact with the homeless people on the median on 355 and 27, and there are times where I selfishly don't want to think about the problems of other people when I have so many of my own (or it at least feels that way...). But at some point, on some level, we all have to care about the plight of the downtrodden. And who knows? One day, we could be one of those in need.
This reminded me of a poem written by Pastor Martin Niemoller (a clergyman during the reign of Adolf Hitler who was deported to a concentration camp because he would not preach Nazi doctrine) called "First They Came"
First the Nazis came for the Communists and I did not speak out - because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out - because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak out for me.
This is an extreme example, yes, but it reminds us that if we fail to speak up for those in need when we have plenty, no one will speak up for us when we are the ones wanting.
Kimberlee's Near-Weekend Selection:
One of the volunteers from the Office of Student Life at the last stop on the mini scavenger hunt. There were so many sobering facts that I learned in those 13 minutes. For example, it'd take a person working a minimum wage job at least 183 hours per week to pay for the average 2-bedroom apartment in Montgomery County.