Wednesday, May 15, 2013

people matter

Today, I read the gripping story of Reshma, the young woman trapped for 17 days under tons of rubble in the Bangladesh factory collapse. Unable to know night from day, she courageously crawled about in cramped tunnels and survived on four crackers and a few sips of water. However, what captured my heart was not only her resolve, but her rescue. When workers heard her small voice calling out from the ruins, a volunteer force sprung into action to save a woman who barely made $60 a month and was abused by her husband because her family didn't pay a large enough dowry. Reshma was rescued.

Because people matter.

Reshma's story gave me a glimmer of hope in a world where the message is that people don't matter or only some do. Take the story of Abercrombie and Fitch, the fashion retailer that made $237 million in 2012 through the exploitation of our kids. A 2006 interview has recently resurfaced where CEO Michael Jeffries candidly commented,

"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong (in our clothes), and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely."

The message is, of course, only some people matter. 

In a bizarre marketing ploy, Hooters, the restaurant chain known for selling dinner on the devaluation of women, offered a free meal to mothers on Mother's Day. Yes, you read this correctly. It was their attempt to "improve their image." Earlier, I tweeted that this was like a thief trying to improve his image by donating proceeds from his loot to charity. It hadn't occurred to Hooters that you cannot honor moms while making their waitresses a fantasy to their husbands.

Enter Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who was convicted of murdering at least three children in his clinic. I cannot even comprehend any human being holding a beautiful, dependent child in his hands and choosing death. It is a picture of world gone horribly wrong.

None of this should surprise us. In a world corrupted by sin, our values will always be inverted. What is cheap (like Abercrombie & Fitch hoodies or Hooters chicken wings) will be raised to significance while what is immensely valuable will be tossed in the dumpster. Fortunately, Jesus reappraised the true value of human beings. He feasted with those who weren't wearing the latest fashion. He defended women rather than used them. He came to give life, not to take it. Because people matter.

Los Angeles writer, Greg Karber, launched his own campaign against A&F by shopping at thrift stores for A&F apparel and distributing shirts, jackets and pants to the homeless--marginalized people the retailer would surely classify as "not cool" (see Karber's video here). Followers of Jesus can launch their own personal campaigns by simply dignifying people in every sphere of influence. Take bottled water to your trash collectors. Allow the customer with one item to check out in front of you. Be patient with the new cashier behind the lunch counter. Appreciate that the mother with the unruly kid might be at her own wit's end. Look for injustice and step in. Serve. Give. Honor. Wait. Defend. Fight to rescue beauty hidden beneath the rubble.

Because people matter.


Tina Aragon said...

If nothing else, a person could offer a smile - it just might be what makes someone's day. And it's free and speaks volumes. Follow it up with a "how's your day going" and you've made that person feel like somebody cares about them. How hard is that?

Tina Aragon said...

Your post reminded me of parts of the Desiderata, my favorite poem..."As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story"...
It's a simple philosophy yet so difficult for some. I'd like to add that for those who do not know how they can make someone feel like they matter - smile at them! It's comforting reassurance that they've been acknowledged. Great blog, David...really enjoyed it.

Matthew Grief said...

Little steps help us take larger leaps to a better society. I have been amazed in the last week how mean some people can be in my own life, but I know this; the more kind I am, the better off they will be. Nice thoughts.