It was a small glimpse into someone else’s life, but it came back later to keep me from sleep.
I passed by them in the middle of a crowded street, in the middle of the city center. Surrounded by hundreds of people and dozens of shops and delights their little drama played out. He caught my eye first. He was a tall man in a nice suit and wearing sun glasses. It was a cold, dreary day, in a country that rained every day; I wondered at his choice of eyewear until I noticed the thin cane held up in front of him.
“Look at what you did! ” he cried. I thought the suggestion ironic.
The young girl still had her cell phone to her ear and stared with a mix of horror and shock at the cane in his hand. One half of it dangled down. It hung in the air between them as evidence of her folly.
“I… I didn’t see it… ” she winced as she said the words. It was her only defense, but to say such a thing to a blind man sounded to all ears, even to her own, an unworthy excuse. But it was all she had.
His brows furrowed as he shook the destroyed cane in his hand.
“You people see what you choose to see!”
She stood still, her phone still on her ear and her brain completely stuck for what to say.
It was all I heard of their drama. I walked right by them, and felt sorry for them both. What can the girl do? I thought. Perhaps it was a genuine mistake on her part. Perhaps if he weren’t blind, it would have been a passing accident that no one would’ve thought much of. But he was blind, and she had destroyed something he desperately needed. I pondered it over as I walked the next few paces, but the dramatic meeting soon melted away in the midst of my own worries and responsibilities.
It was three days later before I thought of them again. I was just about to fall asleep, when it happened. There was nothing I could do about it. Just as vivid as when I had walked past them, the scene fled to the forefront of my thoughts and hit me across the face. His words stung and it caught me by surprise: “You people see what you choose to see”
A simple phrase that rung truer than perhaps even he had realized.
Why? I thought to myself, do people pray for God to give them eyes to see?
We already see what’s happening in the world, it’s not as though it’s hidden. It’s right there. If it were any closer we’d trip over it, and sometimes we do, and more than walking sticks get broken. And it’s not as though we don’t understand how to help anyone. What do we think the example of Christ was there to be an example of?
“You people see what you chose to see.”
We’re no different than the girl on her phone.
There’s nothing wrong with our vision, the problem is what our heart is focused on. We’ve chosen not to see. We’ve chosen to look away when something comes that makes us uncomfortable or seems too complicated or is just too much of a hassle to dirty our hands with. We’d much rather prattle away about all the things we don’t like than chose to see what’s right before our eyes. We’ve chosen not to see the awkward guy who never says the right thing but tries so hard because he’s desperate to have a friend. We’ve chosen not to see the young girl with head hung low and hair in her face to cover the bruises she received. We’ve chosen not to see the homeless woman sitting by the street, cup held out in hand to ask for a bit of change. We’ve chosen not to see face on the news of a little boy with blood on his face and tears in his eyes for the home that he just lost. We’ve chosen not to see the bodies wash upon the shore reaching a different peace than the one they’d prayed for. We’ve chosen not to see the children forced to fight wars their parents died trying to cease.
We have chosen our own blindness because the truth is we don’t care enough to look at it. We knowingly walk our own way, talking and talking and saying nothing at all as we trip over the blind and the hurting and the dying. And one day, when we step too harshly and accountability is demanded, and the blind man cries out against us, our excuses will be the very words that incriminate us.
We people choose what we want to see. We don’t need to keep asking God for eyes to see the world the way He does, we need to chose to care.