It’s the kindness of a stranger. Like when a man journeying to a distant land sees another, lying bleeding on the roadside. And though the other, by all measure of race and nationality, ought to be his enemy, the man leans down with a touch of compassion. He dresses the wounds with his fine linen and carries him to the nearest town. From him flows a river of love and generosity.
It’s the look between lovers. Like when a couple, sitting alone in the morning stillness, chance a glance at each other. Eyes meet. And in that moment, which stretches to eternity, all of life and beauty is exchanged. It bears depth: a thousand hurts and ten thousand forgivenesses, a thousand tears and ten thousand smiles, a thousand fears and ten thousand hopes.
It’s the reunion of brothers. Like when two men who have been torn apart by war and strife are joined again. In an instant, the pains of separation, hurts from deep injuries, and scars born of imprisonment and torture fade away. In their place come tears of joy which fall upon the ground as a blessed rain.
So are the stories, rich and beautiful. And though they have not necessarily happened to us, they are still ours. They call to us, speaking to our humanity. In them is hope, joy, and love. They are the human story.
If only we lived in that story more often. Would not our lives be as beautiful as the dawn, as warm as a cup of chai, and as rich as the noblest of kings? Yet, we often choose not to.
It’s bad enough that our own lives are worse off. Sadly, the costs don’t end there. Our choices deny the choice of others. Because we don’t live the human story, others can’t.
Because we don’t, children become slaves. From an early age, thousands upon thousands are forced to labor in the most dark and desolate places on earth. They risk burning, cutting, crushing, and death for wages that many would consider a rounding error.
Because we don’t, war ravages community. Deep bonds give way to mistrust. Fear replaces fellowship. Death takes the place of life. And even as the fighting ends, painful wounds remain. Their scars bear fruit to strife and hate for generations.
Because we don’t, men lose their dignity. Humanity stripped away, they become, in the eyes of the world, far less even than an animal. Forced to beg for crumbs and pennies, their talents go wasted. Their art, a gift to the world, is cast aside like a rare gem in a rubbish heap.
And so it comes back to us. The question is ours: which story will we choose? It is a choice after all.
- We can choose hope or we can choose fear.
- We can choose love or we can choose indifference.
- We can choose joy or we can choose dispair.
- We can choose the human story or we can ignore it.
My hope is that we will choose the human story. I think it’s a better story. I think it’s worth fighing for. Here’s some of what that looks like:
Fighting: Everything worthwhile requires effort. So it is with the human story. At times it is unnatural. Living in it goes against the grain of many powerful structures in our society. And so we must be active. Being passive won’t change anything.
Human: The human story is all about people. It is one of relationships and community. It’s about making people matter.
Story: Stories show us how to live and connect us with other human beings. Sadly, many of them are cast aside. Because their owner is too poor or too insignificant, we ignore them. That is a loss to us. So many of them are beautiful and deserve telling.
Fighting for the human story is a continual process. It’s a journey. And that journey is at the heart of the Bright Army.
I hope you will join me on it.
The photo was taken at Hope for Life Kenya. They offer food and job training to orphans and unemployed youth in Nakuru, Kenya.