If you have a passion for working with the poor and the marginalized — or if you just want to develop a better understanding of the trauma of poverty — you must read Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Father Greg Boyle.
In his book, Father Boyle chronicles his years of work with Los Angeles gang members. The stories he tells are eye opening, heart breaking, and hope restoring. I’m not sure that I have ever read another book that has so strongly resonated with my feelings about the human condition and our obligation to care for one another.
If you are intrigued, take twenty minutes to watch this TED talk by Father Boyle. You won’t be disappointed. (Be aware: there is a bit of profanity in the video)
There are two quotes in particular that I believe are absolutely critical statements about how we can begin to heal a very broken world.
First, begin treating every human being with respect for their infinite value (See A Simple Plan to Improve the World).
There is an idea that just might be at the root of all that is wrong in the world and the idea is this: that there just might be lives out there that are less than other lives. How do we stand against that idea?
Second, take time to get to know others.
The truth is, human beings can’t demonize people they know.
If we can have even a small degree of the impact Father Boyle has had in his community — to be a difference maker for even one person — we will be on our way to making our world a better place. There is wisdom in his words.