Dropping my papers at the Upper Room Mission one morning, a passerby bothered to ask, “Why do you drop the paper here? These people don’t read.”
I wish I had said, “These people are my people. Je suis these people.”
These people are kind, crazy, polite, twisted, joyful, scared, scarred, hopeful, dismal, brilliant and broken just like me.
They read. I read. We read. Poor, addicted or however screwed up doesn’t make us less human or erase our very basic need to connect to community.
It’s intrinsic, no matter how low we go. Just look at the families formed on the street. That never changes, and it’s not supposed to.
The newspaper is a free lifeline that keeps us connected.
It can motivate even the deepest introvert to engage with the outdoors, and maybe even the paper carrier if they’re feeling particularly brave.
It’s a bastion of dignity for some of these people — a little level spot in the playing field where, regardless of status, however measured, we all read the same paper.
It’s one of the few experiences still shared by the whole community, like the Charlie Brown specials when we were kids. Remember when there were only two channels, so everyone watched the same shows last night? It connected us.
This simple, free bundle of paper does the same thing for our community now. And they read! We read.
Je suis these people.