Hope in a Cynical City
As a political nerd, I love traveling to Washington D.C. Walking through the Capital, meeting legislators, and having robust debates in meeting rooms and bars gives me this infinite sense of opportunity and possibility.
For more than 200 years, DC has been the center of history, power, influence, and solutions - which is why the current state of the city can be so darn depressing. Congress seems to grow less effective by the day, the ObamaCare roll out is a hot mess, and like many cities - homelessness and poverty are growing. Even a DC enthusiast like me can become cynical about both the literal and figurative DC.
Until you meet someone like Gerald Anderson.
Earlier this week as I stepped off the DC Metro dragging my suitcase and staring at my phone, Gerald greeted me with a big hello. Gerald is a vendor with the Street Sense newspaper (similar to Real Change for my Seattle Folks). He eagerly asked where I was headed and told me to "stop blocking traffic"...which I was doing while frantically sending off emails on my blackberry. I liked his energy and while I didn't need directions, I did buy a paper. In that moment the hope and optimism in DC was restored.
Gerald had an article in the paper this week. Together we opened to page 11 and there it was - a piece titled "A Safe Return". Gerald grew us in New Orleans and like far too many others left after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. He left on September 5, 2005 and his family hadn't been together since. It's hard to imagine the number of birthdays, holidays, celebrations, and hugs that were missed.
Gerald has had a tough life but clearly is a special guy. So special that several of his customers recently pooled their airline miles so that he could visit New Orleans for two weeks. He returned to New Orleans on September 5, 2013. While there he celebrated his 45th birthday and reunited with siblings, cousins, and friends. The awesome and inspiring Street Sense customers helped make his dreams come true.
It is easy to forget how many wonderful and compassionate people are out there. We need to harness this good will for collective action.