I say London… what’s the first thing you think of? Buckingham palace guarded with stoic and mighty sentries – crisp red coats with high, black bearskins? The architecture of Westminster Abbey with every crevasse and corner detailed with sculpture, scripture, and beauty beyond your eye? The pure power of the height of Big Ben?
I have to admit; I experienced all of these fascinations yesterday and fully enjoyed soaking in the royal, historical beauty central London holds.
But this is not the story I will be living this year.
Instead, picture diversity. People living in close quarters... originally from all over world - but arriving here to live in a city scarce of trees, but abundant in concrete and culture. Picture a street filled with noise in all forms: traffic, music, and different languages being spoken. Street vendors offering food from all over the world, Africa, Asia, Central Europe… and bright artistic colors of scarves, jewelry, and advertisements. Housing where clothing is hung to dry and dishes are washed by hand.
This is the story of London that I will be living. In a part of town that tourists never see. But just because it has been hidden from the money’s eye doesn’t mean it isn’t worth telling. It’s a different picture, but it’s beautiful.
I invite you to look at your own town you live in. I imagine there are the highlights of places you would recommend to a visitor – the best food, entertainment, and thrill. But what about the areas where we are quick to turn our eyes blind? Why don’t we speak of those areas as well? What prohibits us from learning the stories from the people who weren’t given the privilege to have a voice? My hope is to give this voice. To never turn a blind eye but instead have the courage to look straight into the layers of injustice and poverty… and ask why.
It’s about solidarity. Interdependence. Mutuality.