I realise that I am flawed. I would tell you about all of my faults, but that would be quite awkward. So, I’ll tell you about one of them: I am pretty grumpy and far, far less gracious than I should be.
A case in point. I was recently in Durban, South Africa, doing some filming for a video for our new campaign (more to come soon!) and I got right on my high horse.
Let me explain.
Durban is a stunningly beautiful, cultural and diverse place. There are amazing beaches, good restaurants and beautiful views. It is green and sunny and warm (really flipping warm!) and generally a pretty amazing place to live. You can wear flip-flops ALL YEAR ROUND!
And, if you visit as a tourist, you might only catch a glimpse that there is another side of Durban.
As with most large cities, if you scratch below the surface the gloss comes off and the city is a very different place.
If you look behind the big hotels, there are people struggling to make a living wage. If you go over the road from the massive houses, there are families living in poverty. Go to some parts of the city, there are girls standing outside churches that are forced to sell themselves so that they have enough money to be able to eat. Drive past the glossy, wealthy malls and you see the shanty town huts perched on the hills just outside.
There is desperation, illness and violence. Underneath the sunny exterior, all is not well.
And it isn’t even that hard to find; the surface is pretty shallow and the underneath deep. Pain and poverty is hidden in plain view.
On the more positive side we met loads of people who are doing something about it, fighting the good fight and getting stuck in to help alleviate poverty amongst the Durban population. Amazing people, doing some pretty tough and costly work that is changing people’s lives.
But they are the few. (Can you hear my horse trotting in?)
What about the rest? Clip clop. What about the rich, the wealthy, the educated, the “great and the good”. Clip clop, clip clop.
Are they blind? Do they not see what is in front of them? Clip clop, clip clop.
How can people live amongst that and not do anything about it?
There it is. I jumped right up on the horse and it crapped on the floor. My lack of grace turned into judgement of the rich churches and wealthy people. Not out loud, just in my head and heart, leaving me feeling judgmental and sour.
Whilst I was sat there on my horse, getting saddle-sore and grumpy, God whispered to me. Gently, kindly, questioning.
“Simon, what about your own blind spots?”
It stopped me in my tracks. Where are those places in my community that I choose not to look, because it’s too messy or too hard or too scary? Where are the people I ignore, the bruises I don’t see?
It’s difficult to say that we have no idea that there is need both locally or globally; it is right in front of us – the homeless man on the corner, the kid in school who doesn’t have lunch, the TV images of war and starvation, the #IF campaign. All of the global awareness we have makes it hard to say we did not know.
I am choosing to ignore my blind spots.
Jesus told us that the most important things in the law were to “love God and to love your neighbour as you love yourself”.
In this global village, everyone is our neighbour now.
So let’s ask ourselves which of our neighbours are trapped in our blind spots, which issues are we not seeing?
Maybe it’s time that we stopped using our eyes, stopped living by sight and started walking by faith. Maybe it’s then that we will be led to the last, the least and the lost.
Soul Action Project Manager