There’s nothing like getting out of my comfort zone to challenge what I believe, and how I do things. I’ve been volunteering on the street van for a few months now, and sometimes I wonder what’s the point. People are happy to stop and chat, but after half an hour (or sometimes three hours) they wander on their way back to their lives, seemingly unchanged, back to probably bad habits and bad situations. Rinse, repeat.
I think I suffer from my fair share of white man fix the world syndrome, so with that perspective there probably is no success to be gained, or if there is, it will be a long time in coming. To be sure, these people want to and do make progress, but sometimes it’s two steps forward one step back, sometimes one step back three steps back. Hanging my hat on fixing them would be a journey of frustration.
On the other hand, if spending time with these people is less about fixing them and more learning a bit of what their lives are like, that changes things dramatically. It means those occasional Friday nights are no longer a portal into which I step, leaving my life behind, and then returning to my life once more on Saturday morning. It means I stop and think about those people just a little bit, and how very comfortable is the rest of my life.
What’s actually sparked this thought is that I give a damn about human trafficking, but I’ve never known anyone who would be so foolish or under resourced as to get drawn into it. I think that some of the people I’ve on the street van might actually be vulnerable enough that they could get sucked up into that sort of mess. There’s a new film on the issue out at the moment, playing at Queensgate Fremantle, plus the website has suggestions on what to do about it. They reckon there are more slaves right now than at any point in history – man that sucks.