My daughter Taylor wrote this as a paper for one of her classes at Mount St. Mary's University. Her daddy is proud and I thought you would enjoy.
I pass them everyday. They are always there, without fail. Usually I just walk around and don’t even give them the time of day; sometimes they get in my face from out of nowhere, and I flinch, as to avoid fully encountering their presence. Today, however, I broke my pattern. Today I stopped and let them charm me with their story.
People see bees as two things: a popular Halloween costume and a pesky insect, buzzing in the ear, relentlessly seeking the nectar that surrounds us. The bees tell me otherwise. As I watch them, swarming the trashcan like electrons to the nucleus of an atom, my rhythm syncs with theirs.
I dive into their world and suddenly feel isolated, unwanted. People walk by and don’t even look at me. The buzz of thought fills my head, and I wonder where they came from. Surely the campus trashcans are not their natural habitat. Have they been abandoned by their colonies, left to survive in the man-made wild? Do they have a family or a life away from the Mount? Empathy for the bees inundates me. I feel their pain, rejected by the world, misunderstood. Nobody wants them. They stick together as rejects of the world, thriving off the company of kindred souls.
The sting of a bee is undesirable at best. It has always annoyed me, subsequently having to deal with the throbbing, the itching, the piercing pain, until alas it dissipates. This sting defines the bees, but now I see that that characterization is perhaps unjust. The bee stings defensively, not offensively. They do not swarm around in search of their next victim, but rather only sting when intruded upon. They are not evil and malicious, but rather guarded and protective. Their desire is not to harm, and passersby remain hassle-free.
But still, people cannot stand them. It seems like such juxtaposition that something as sweet as honey can come from this seemingly vile insect. If we just got rid of them, people say, then they would not bother us any more. No more bee stings. No more swarming around our trashcans. HELLO!!! ATTENTION: WORLD! If we killed off all the bees, then who would pollinate our plants? The existence of our vegetative food supply lies in their ability to pollinate, and do not even get me started on a world with out honey!
We are so quick, as a human race, to judge solely based on the qualities that bother us. Bees are so helpful, yet we write them off because they could potentially sting us. Your neighbors could be the nicest people in the world, but because of the way they dress, you won’t talk to them. We are unable to see far enough beyond the traits that we deem undesirable to find the person within.
I drive past them everyday. They are always there, without fail. Usually I just drive on by and don’t even give them the time of day; sometimes they come to my window, and I look away, as to avoid fully encountering their presence. Today, however, is a new day. Today I stop, and their story captivates me.
Society sees homeless people as two things: lazy and addicted. The homeless tell me otherwise. I watch them in the park, swarming around the truck that has just come to bring them food, like bees to a trashcan. Their humanity enthralls me.
I try to immerse myself into their foreign world, but something blocks me. They are too… human. They are not some animal or insect; they are human beings, just like me, made of the same fabric. Where are they from? Where is their family? Why have they been abandoned? They have been rejected by the world. Unwanted. Misunderstood. They form a family on the streets, united not by what they have in common, but by what they are all lacking – Home. I feel the sting of loneliness, of hopelessness, in their hearts. It pains me to try to imagine a life so void of love, but even my attempts fall short of their reality. This sting does not dissipate; it does not fade over time. It is not temporary.
Every day people pass the homeless by and act as if they do not exist. Why do we fear them? They will not bother us unless we are bothersome to them. Homeless people are not generally aggressive; in fact, I have met the most big-hearted, caring and generous people out on the streets.
In Vancouver there is a huge homeless population. For the 2010 Olympics, in an effort to make the city clean, pretty, and presentable to the nations of the world, the British Colombian government has decided to give the homeless people a one-way bus ticket out of the city. WHERE ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO GO??? Homeless people are human beings. Like the bees, they cannot simply be shipped off, exterminated from their habitat. And like bees we rely on the homeless. Mother Teresa has a great saying, “When we all get to heaven we are going to owe a great debt of gratitude to the poor for having brought us closer to God”. They pollinate our relationship to God and to each other. The hospitality of merely offering a meal connects one heart to the other.
The state of homelessness, not the people, is transitory if we allow it to be. For this is not a question of should they stay or should they go. It is a question of how we, as a society, can create a world in which nobody is forced into living on the streets. It is not acceptable for them to be pushed out of their natural habitat and forced to swarm where the food is.
What makes the rest of us so much better than the panhandler on the street? Where do we get the idea that we deserve more or better than they do? There exists this false sense of superiority because we do not understand their story. We cannot understand what they have been through. However, if we remove the blinding judgment and approach them with love and compassion, we have the ability to transform the quality of their lives. We can get them off the streets and give them another chance at life.
For it is not merely in their existence, but in their ability to be a part of society, that they find their purpose, and when they find it, when they realize what they have truly been made for, they produce a honey sweeter and richer than all the bees’ honey in the world.