Last weekend a story hit the press in London and then it traveled around the world.
It was the story of these spikes
(Photo from London Evening Standard)
Spikes installed by private developers to stop rough sleepers from being able to sleep outside their building. Spikes that artists within the local community decided to transform into a bedroom and a library for the homeless within their community.
We live in a society that measures worth by wealth and material goods, or by fashion and looks, or by the number of facebook friends we have and our social status. Developers installing anti-homeless spikes are saying, we do not want ‘undesirable’ people sitting outside our developments; if you have money to sit outside a café and sip an expensive coffee, then that is a different matter….. The artists by transforming these weapons of exclusion into a place of inclusion were saying ‘No. we don’t want that narrative in our community. Everyone is welcome and we are going to make that visually apparent through the provision of a bedroom and a little library.’
I love that. That is what we will seek to do as Oasis Aquila, to take all the statements in society that tell people they are not worth anything and change them to say you matter. You have worth. You are equally valuable, and we will treat you in that way and challenge all the silent or loud statements that say otherwise. As the great singer-songwriter, Bruce Cockburn, famously sang ‘you’ve got to kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.’
For Oasis Aquila Housing, worth is not just a good idea or a nice thing to do, it is linked to the very reason we started the charity. Aquila and Oasis were both set up by young people with a Christian faith whose faith taught them that all people are made in the image of God, and therefore have inherent dignity and value. Behaviours don’t change that, homelessness doesn’t mar that, abuse doesn’t get to steal that away. Human Beings are made in the image of God, there is something sacred in all of us.
Mother Theresa, reflecting on her life’s work, wrote:
“poor people are great people… They don’t need our pity and sympathy. They need our understanding love and they need our respect. We need to tell the poor that they are somebody to us that they, too, have been created, by the same loving hand of God, to love and be loved.”
By having “Worth” as one of our values, we, as an organisation, commit to working hard to ensure all of our actions communicate this same message “you are somebody” “we are all equal” “you have immense value” “we respect you”.
Many of us, with strong self-worth take these messages for granted; to our clients these messages are often radically different to the messages they have been surrounded by. So each of us must communicate them with gusto, and as we do, we will be kicking at the darkness until it bleeds daylight.