This past Sunday, we had a great Table Talk service focused on our Seven Principles. During the conversation at our table, I mentioned that I’d been asked before “which is your favorite Principle?” I said that’s like asking the parents of seven children “which is your favorite?” They are all part of our family of guiding principles, none more important than the others.
While all of our Principles are important, there are times that one Principle, or perhaps a couple in combination, become central to how we relate to the world around us. This story is about the first Principle: The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person. During a recent service I talked about how I would no longer ignore and simply walk by the homeless people I see on the streets of downtown Atlanta. I may not be able to help all of them, but I can help someone.
Since that day, I have made the acquaintance of one Mr. John Brown, formerly of Portland, Oregon. He now lives under the 75-85 Connector bridge behind the Atlanta Housing Authority building. I started by giving him a couple of bucks one day. The next day, I gave him some fruit left over from my lunch, and asked him his name. Over the next few days, I’ve stopped and spent more time each day talking with John. John Brown is a human being who has inherent worth and dignity. Regardless of his current life’s circumstances, he deserves the respect that is due to every individual.
Today, we talked about how nice the weather was, although he said it still gets cold at night. But he says that once he hunkers down under the bridge out of the wind it’s not that bad. He did ask if I could get him some pants. He wears a 32 waist, 32 length, so everything I have is too big for him…but that really doesn’t matter. I’ll give him some of my old clothes that no longer fit, and I’ll keep helping him a little bit at a time with food and/or money, but mostly by becoming his friend.