The Untouchables

3-22-10                 3:59pm

I never cease to be amazed by the amount of judgment around me. Yesterday, Pastor Jeremiah was talking about inviting strangers into your home and loving one another. Mom and I went to Marie Callender’s for lunch and we passed a homeless man on the off ramp. I asked if we could bring him to lunch. She said no, wouldn’t answer why. She said she would bring lunch to him but not him to lunch. I said, “I get it. You’re not willing to fellowship with the untouchables. I just wish you’d actually say it.”

Do you fellowship with the untouchables? However you might define that. I hang out with a lot of different people. There aren’t many who scare me, whom I shy away from being near. There are a few but, for the most part, people are just people. Everyone has a story. That’s not to say I don’t judge people. I do. But those judgments aren’t static and are based on experience more than stereotype. In my current list of friends and family there are criminals, sex offenders, smugglers, poor, disabled, awkward, soon-to-be-homeless, just plain weird and funny looking people. And they trust me because I don’t care what makes them weird. I care how they are. I listen to their feelings. And I trust them because I don’t have a whole lot to lose, and they’re often much better friends than the “normal” people.

I came today to meet 2 people I barely know for drinks. I posted this on my FB page and a slew of advice followed. It’s still coming. I get it on my phone. I am amazed at the things people are saying. It’s not safe. Have 911 ready on your phone. Don’t get in the car with them. That it should be okay as long as I take someone I really know well. What happened to trusting people? Have they never been on a blind date? This was not a date, but it’s this same fear-based mentality that causes people to teach their kids not to talk to strangers. The only problem is EVERYONE’S a stranger. It’s a hard thing to unteach.

People are not bad just because they’re people. I hate a lot of people but I hate them with reason. Give a stranger a chance. Talk to someone on the bus, or your grocer, or the person next to you in line. NOT being afraid to talk to people has allowed me to make friends with and network with an extensive group of people I would not otherwise be associated with.

I talk to people. I stop on the median and sit down to talk to the man with the cardboard sign. What others run from, I walk towards. (Except natural disasters. Those aren’t pleasant.) I accept rides from strangers I am reasonably sure won’t kill me. It’s gotten me in some tricky situations, but it’s also saved my life. I make connections with powerful people in the community by not being afraid to approach or talk to them.

TRY IT. You might find a new friend. Or someone you can help. Or someone who can help you.

I know how to dial 911 and I don’t appreciate being told to fear the Boogieman, that the world isn’t safe. That may be true. But if the Boogieman IS out to get me, I’d rather spend the time I have left happy than scared. Wouldn’t you?

Fellowship with the untouchables. Talk to strangers. Make yourself uncomfortable. Let me know how it goes. That Boogieman might turn out to be your new best friend.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2010

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