I commute in my car quite a bit and often spend time listening to National Public Radio. Although they have come under attack lately, over the years I have found them to be relatively balanced in their reporting and in their effort to educate the public. Sometimes too, they tell stories that you would not hear elsewhere and get you to think or remind you of an experience you once had. Since I spend a lot of time traveling and visiting with the poor, particularly in India there was a story they told about a year ago that brought to mind so many things I have seen over the years. It’s about the vast disparities of wealth in the city of Mumbai India. In short, and as an NPR reporter tells it:
Adjacent to a huge home that was being built for one of India’s new rich, in the city of Mumbai lived a cobbler on the street. On both sides of his “shop” he stacked a wall of bricks and it was between these bricks where he sat all day hoping someone would want his shoes shined or fixed. He has been there for years and on a good day he might make a dollar. The reporter asked him what he does on a bad day, he said he just turns over, sleeps on the street and prays for a better day the next day. When the reporter asked what if there is no better day the next day, what do you eat? He said, that when he earns no money, he eats the leaves off the tree across the street. Finally, the reporter asked had he ever dreamt about living in a real home, maybe even like the huge home that was being built right next to his make-shift shoe repair shop. The old man simply said, not in the lifetime, but maybe the next.
So goes the life of all those around the world who have so little yet seldom ask for help, even when with a little kindness, help may be as near as across the street.