Stories can be overwhelming or intimidating. When I asked a bubbly young lady about why she showed up, she recalled the time she was raped by her colleagues, at work, and how no one believed her afterwards. Worse, she was ostracized by co-workers who were once her friends and eventually let go. But at the march, she felt safe enough to tell her story to total strangers, and how important that was to her: to say aloud what happened to her, to people who would listen. No less than three other people I saw started crying with her. One of them was an older woman who blurted out that when she was a teen, she was raped by her father when she admitted to being gay, as a means to try to straighten her out. She had never told anyone ever before, til that moment.
In that moment, the last thing I wanted to do was “that was deep, let’s take a selfie!”
There is a way to tell stories like that for others, and some people are much better at that than others. If you follow Homeless In Sacramento, you have to appreciate most of those stories are so very personal, and yet they’re told to a total stranger they just met a few seconds ago. I have much to learn from people like Nelson, because in today’s world, it is becoming more challenging to talk about the things that we should be talking about. Listening wasn’t the buzzword of 2017, and probably 2018, as it’s shaping up. But we need more listeners, and we need more trying-to-understanders. We need more leaders and action takers who are more interested in building bridges, rather than burning them.