In 1997 I lived in Mexico City for a few months. I went there in my private airline… On the wings of Zeal. I wore it every day as a badge of Christianity. Eager to make myself useful, I plunged into my self made ministry, but I did not really do much in that ministry that I thought I went there for.
I found myself overwhelmed by the street kids.
About 2 million of them live in the sewer system. They are throw away kids, run away kids, have-no-one-left kids. The live in the sewer because if they fall asleep on the street they get shot to death during the night. I found that it also happens in Colombia, Guatemala, Romania, Brazil, and who knows how many countries as well. It’s also warmer down there.
I tried to start a little school for them. Working in the monastery of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers in Mexico City, they, so kindly, gave me a room for a few hours a day. First day I got about 12 kids, next day about 20. But I could not handle it, there were kids who had only 2nd grade and kids who had 6th grade. I had no supplies and they could always go back to the street. But we became friends and slowly they would trust me, I loved them but that is all I could do.
My stay there came to an abrupt end, but I came away deeply affected by those children that maybe could need me, but mostly they needed no one.
Another thing that I found out was that during my stay, there was a second generation of sewer kids starting; they were now starting “families” down there. A new culture was emerging in the midst of a thickly populated metropolitan area; distinct, distantly related, growing parallel to it, but nothing like it.
That may be just “one more thing” for some, but for some of us, we are pondering about the times we live in.
That happened thirteen years ago. When I left for Mexico, rumors of attacks against visible signs of Christianity were beginning to make a lot of noise. But it was of no consequence, or was it?
In Brazil, based on 200,000 interviews conducted for Brazil’s 2010 census, the study concludes that the Catholic share of Brazil’s population has dropped to 68 percent, its lowest level since census data began to be collected in 1872, in part because of the rising percentage of youth who disclaim any religious affiliation. (John Allen, national catholic reporter, Sept 2011)
Last week, here in US, the football coaches at Westmoreland Middle School in Sumner County, Tenn., got into trouble for bowing their heads during a student-led prayer before a recent game.
In Connecticut, Bill 1098 would strip Catholic bishops of their direct oversight over their parishes. The state would force them to step back from their jurisdiction over their parishes and parish councils. The bishop and all clergy would no longer have a vote on their own dioceses business. The state of Connecticut would.
I volunteer at a pregnancy crisis center. When I speak to the girls that come in looking for free pregnancy tests, we can council them briefly. My experience has been that these girls have no understanding of right and wrong, no understanding of morality, spirituality, ambition, no clue of an awareness of their value, they just do what they all do, going month to month white knuckled thinking they may be pregnant. Absolutely no understanding of the significance of giving life to a baby.
I work as a medical and court interpreter, as well as for the police. I find myself riding the white water river of muck and mire that runs thru the streets right into the court systems.
Every medical interpretation I have done is about injuries suffered by individuals in manual labor, meat packing plants, construction work and the sort. These people suffered for years from the accidents and get an aspiring and an X-ray. They get sent home and they can’t sleep, can’t go back to work, can’t sit too long or walk too long or lay down too long. Their faces are fixed in a tired, pain expression. They tell me of the years spent asking for treatment but the insurance companies just send them to a doctor every few months but no treatment to help the pain, nor fix the injury.
One guy, a bull hanging from a chain on the assembly line, broke the chain causing the bull to fall on the man and the chain…. well… it came down fiercely whipping him across the back. He can’t move one arm anymore which is now visibly smaller than the other.
One time I came into court and the case before mine was not done yet. A teen girl sobbed so hard, looking to the wall. She would stop periodically to look at the proceedings to be overwhelmed by some internal something that made her convulse at times. Her mother signed away her parental rights. Just handed her to the courts. There were 5 women around her, all from several institutions to manage her welfare from now on.
Another time, a young teen was charged with a very grievous crime. He was identified by 2 girls who were kidnapped and raped. The 2 girls gave their testimony, hiding under their mane, pointing shamelessly at the young teen as the one who kidnapped them. There was a surveillance tape with a picture of the assailant; this boy looked nothing like him. Eventually he was proven innocent of the crime given that he was not even in town when the crime occurred. This youngster did not even know how to read and write.
Last week, a young teen was before the judge for the 3rd time. Again there were 5 different adults representing different agencies addressing the child’s welfare. The boy sat motionless. Steely eyes totally expressionless staring blankly pass the judge. I sat next to his father, his eyes bloodshot red and hair not like the rest of the people around him. His shirt wrinkled, his hands rubbing each other with such tension that at times his fingers were at awkward angles. He sat in silence just watching the proceedings. The judge eventually addressed the teen telling him the mandatory penalty for his charge, and given that it was the third time, there would be much less clemency…… then the judge turned to the father and asked if he would take charge again of the boy and control him. The father tried to speak, but no voice came out, he cleared his voice and said that he could not control the boy; that he would not even go out to eat with the family anymore. His voice shaking, trying so hard not to cry.
The boy chose jail and like a robot got up to be taken by the police into custody. Never looked back. We all shared a common despair. The judge was willing to send him home….. but he chose jail.
After all went home, still numb after that scene, I asked the prosecutor if he has noticed a change in attitude in the youngsters in the many years he has been there.
He said; “No question, these kids are younger and younger, tougher and tougher.” As he was saying that, suddenly I understood something I did not see before. I could see what happens when God is kicked out and out lawed.
There is no hope, nothing to have faith on, no one speaking in their conscience, no one to ask for help, no one to hang on to when life is imploding, no morals to abide by, no heaven and no hell. These kids have no God.
Suddenly I understood what happens when we make God an outlaw.