I was downtown last night, walking back to the Garnett MARTA station around 9pm. I’d been there before (closest location to traffic court), but had forgotten the entrance location. Folks approached me, asking for change. I don’t carry cash nor change, ever, and haven’t really since high school, I think.
Man walks up, has a non motorized scooter. Masked. Asked if I wanted to buy the scooter. I declined. A rat the size of my smaller cat, Squeaks, ran between us.
“Is this the entrance to MARTA?”
“No, but I can show you where it is. I can walk you there.”
He did. We exchanged names. He lives in the area, unhoused. Ron, like my husband, kindly asked me to walk on the inside of him as we made our way down the sidewalk.
“Chivalry is not yet dead”. He smiled.
“Will you be here next week?”
“I’ll look for you, Ron. Thanks again.”
I pulled out my MARTA card and offered him a ride. He declined. Wished me well. I swiped my card and went on my way.
I don’t fear my fellow human. In fact, I’ve found more than not, the other wants to be more helpful TO ME than to receive it FROM ME. I wonder how much good we turn away from fear of the other?
This came into stark contrast this morning when I learned that my God fearing and gun toting Governor sought to clear encampments across the street from the Capitol (a few blocks from my own story setting yesterday) due to a bomb scare. I knew nothing of the potential bomb nor of any fear I should have of the unhoused, last night. I was just going about my business like I normally do. There was some heavier MARTA traffic at the GWCC station, but I figured that was due to a game or something. Nothing serious. At 5’3″, 150 lbs, and no real strong presence other than a big mouth, I don’t perceive myself as intimidating, yet I also don’t walk with fear.
Why does Brian Kemp?
Don’t all those new fences and shiny new bullet proof shield at the MLK Jr. Dr. entrance the Capitol Cops check you in at make him feel safe? If it doesn’t, what will? I mean, I feel certain Ron would walk him to his car, or helipad, if need be. Ron probably would be honored to have the job, but I don’t want to speak for him. And I don’t mean to put too fine a point on it, but those State Troopers at the Capitol are larger men than Ron. If I could bottle up and sell the swagger maintained by their strides at the Capitol, I’d be a wealthy woman.
And doesn’t the Governor pride himself on his faith? Imma need him to re-read his Bible then.
Ephesians 2:19. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”.
And then to disperse the tents of the unhoused from the literal houses of God that welcome them across the street at Central Pres and the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception? REALLY?? This is how the Governor demonstrates his faith? Ok. Strange, knowing that the folks in these congregations have been doing the work of the Lord longer than the legislature has existed in Atlanta. Fires and bomb scares haven’t scared them off.
If you’re unfamiliar, the Shrine’s cornerstone was laid in 1869 and Central Presbyterian in 1885. For reference, Atlanta’s Gold Dome was completed in 1889, after a series of other capital cities were considered. Both churches have strikingly beautiful interiors, and their congregations welcome all each Sunday, like my own, including the unhoused. When I was searching for a church a few years back, I visited Central Pres and it was the only church whose minister personally called me to introduce themself and invite me back. They used to have a luncheon after service that was free for first time visitors. The fried chicken was great! The Shrine was the location I donated food to after catered events at the Capitol when I served as a legislative aide and the wedding location in which I was a maid of honor years ago.
What the Lord has joined together, let no man put asunder (Matthew 19:6), isn’t that what we say at weddings? Is the church not the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25–27)?
Knowing the deep well of faith my Governor and I share, why is it that I’m the one who doesn’t fear my fellow person on the street? I thought it was odd of KLB when I (as a white woman) was more present in the streets during the riots following the murder of Rayshard Brooks. I think this is odd now.
What happens to our leaders that they become afraid of their own people? So much so that they cannot walk among us but must disperse the vulnerable before walking out on the street?
I hope Ron is there next week, not just for me, but for others who may need to see that housing status shouldn’t impact our perceptions of our fellow human. I hope the Governor will take his own walk and meet a Ron of his own. What might the Governor learn from the folks he might encounter rather than living in his lofty Buckhead tower? Like Steinbeck’s novel, we have more in common with our fellow person and the impermanence of life and all she throws at us. The Governor might do well to not only study his Bible, but also remember Steinbeck’s title came from a poem by Robert Burns about an apology a farmer made to a mouse whose home he disturbed while working. Recognizing both were at the hands of fate, he expressed remorse for the unkindness he wrought while fearing his own unforeseen destiny.
Much to learn, Governor, we both have much to learn.