Deep, Real Questions

A few days ago someone visited this blog because they read about one of my films on another blog written a few months ago by a female senior from the University of Notre Dame. It amazes me how this simple film still manages to touch viewers deeply. Here is what the student wrote on her blog:

“Part of my immersion process into my new life has been joining a social justice class at my new church. The program is called Just Faith, and it’s a fantastic 30 week class in which the participants learn about what our faith has to say about poverty, while they bond into a small faith community. I’m in Week 3 now. At our last class, we watched a movie called “When Did I See You Hungry?” by photographer Gerry Straub. I knew I had to share this with you because rarely has a film about poverty moved me so much. I like to think that I know poverty. I’ve taken classes, I’ve done hands on work, I’ve enlightened myself. I have moved past the shocked and startled phase. Friends, not only did this movie document the horrors of world hunger in a way that broke me out of my self-assured “I know all about this” mentality, but it made me ask myself deep, real questions. About why I chose to work with domestic poverty instead of going abroad. About why I gloss over third world poverty when I think about my responsibilities to the world. These were hard questions, and they needed to be asked. Basically, I chose domestic poverty because it’s comfortable. I know the language and culture. Family and friends will always be close by. I get a high standard of living. My future kids will get excellent education. And those aren’t necessarily bad things… but they are if they make me deaf and blind to what God wants from me. I’m not taking off to save the world any time soon, but I am holding these new insights in mind when I think about the future. It’s never a comfortable thing to be reminded that you’re selfish, especially when you thought you were doing pretty good in that area. Anyway, it’s an important, challenging movie. You should see it. And show it to your friends, classes, and churches. And then TALK about it, and what it means for your life. Just my two cents.”

The point of the film is not to make anyone feel guilty or, as in the case of this young lady, selfish. But certainly it is hard to see distressing images of poverty and not feel a tinge of guilt, which is why we look away. I’m happy the film prompted this bright student ask herself some probing questions…questions which in all likelihood will take her a lifetime to answer. I too am not rushing off to change the world…I can’t even change the oil in my car. But by going to places of extreme poverty, I am changing myself, and hopefully in the process making a little difference in the lives of some of the poor. The chronically poor need our presence, our touch. They experience salvation through my humanity. And I experience salvation through their humanity. My friend Fr. Daniel O’Leary, an Irish priest living and working in England, sums it up best: “The incarnation of God means that our deep need for being comforted can only come in a human way. We can scarcely believe how intimate God is present to us – in every word, smile and tear.”


3 Responses to “Deep, Real Questions”

  1. 1 Laura December 9, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and for quoting me. Would you mind linking to the post that you are quoting from? Also, I actually graduated in May and I’m working for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. In case that makes a difference to you. Thank you so much for all of your excellent work.

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  1. 1 Remember that movie I wrote about? | The Bronzed Shoe Archives Trackback on December 9, 2010 at 6:23 am

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