We saw Pursuit of Happyness this week. It's a good movie (best waiting till it comes out on DVD though) about a not well off guy, Chris, who gets a few bad breaks and gets stuck on a downward spiral. It portrays really, really well the trap of poverty, you get a poignant insight into the hopelessness of what it is like to very poor. (Not student poor, which I think alot of us may have experienced: "Man, I can't even afford to go to the cinema!")
But, of course, it's all very Hollywood because at the end, due to a splash of luck, the dude's dream comes true and he gets rich. This is all really fantastic and I couldn't help but shed a tear at this wondrous thing. I also couldn't help but think about the googles of people stuck in the povetry rift who weren't ever, ever gonna get the good cards dealt to Chris. (But, you know, the stories of normal people just dont give veiwers that warm glow when they leave the building.)
Last night we went to Artists Corner at Number 10. Number 10 is a Salvation Army thing at the back of Oxford Street, a small centre for the local homeless people. It is beautiful, like fully unassuming and authentic. We have had a few chances to hang out since we got here, and last night too, was really fantastic. People read poems they had written, sang songs and even did some live painting. Deep well springs of talent. Alot of the expressions of art were about their experiences of being homeless and almost all moved from a point of despair to a point of hope.
So, anyway, to tie this babling on all together...
Chris's story (although apparently inspired by a true one) ends pretty unrealistically. Things are so bad for Chris predominantly because he has absolutley no friends, no one to turn to. But then, magic, he comes upon a gold mine. (But still has no friends.)
On the other hand, last night I was filled with the sense that the glimmer of light for alot of Number 10's homeless friends, wasn't the prospect of a pot of gold but the people at Number 10, inspiring them, encouraging them but most of all being there, always there to turn to.
Shivers. So in conclusion. Hopefully this isn't too naive...
If us Jesus Followers really saw ourselves as salt and sprinkled ourselves around neighbourhoods, the total despair for people that was Chris's wouldn't be so bad, as we would be his friends to turn too. And, clearly, hope and happiness isn't found in the miraculous stockbroking job or the lottery win, but in solid friendship that everyone should have accesss to.