Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
“Seems to me,
You don’t want to talk about it
Seems to me,
You just turn your pretty head and walk away…”
It is highly unlikely that Joe Walsh, then of The James Gang and later of the Eagles, was thinking about the Utah homelessness issue when he penned “Walk Away” back in 1971.
However, that attitude of turning our backs with a “not my problem” snub to those on the streets seems to prevail in most of our minds.
The Savior, however, taught we should feel and act much differently.
You have to squint to see the six-pointed stars placed on the balcony of the House of Representatives at the Utah State Capitol. There are several ways to interpret what each point of the gold-painted stars represent.
Some say they represent the six days of creation. Others say the points signify the six attributes of God: power, wisdom, majesty, love, mercy, and justice.
I like the interpretation that they denote the six traits of those in the parable taught by Christ in the 25th chapter of Matthew:
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.”
As Christians, should we collectively and individually be reaching out more to those who are hungry or thirsty? How about extending true love to those we do not know or those who are in need of clothing or medical care?
Can we with clear conscious forget about those sitting in jail or prison cells?
Is a monthly fast offering donation our only obligation?
Do we simply turn our pretty heads and walk away?
It was disheartening to read about the Draper fiasco last month where the mayor attempted to meet with citizens and discuss the possibility of providing a temporary shelter for homeless women and children.
He looked at it as a way for his community to do its part to begin making a dent in our homeless crisis.
The mayor would have received a warmer response if he had proposed siting a nuclear waste repository in the heart of Draper.
Residents booed, hissed, and threatened without allowing him to begin discussing his proposal. To cap off the display of civility, they proceeded to boo a former homeless man off the stage.
I like to think that the good people of Tooele Valley would have reacted in a different manner. But who knows?
A few years ago, while serving as a Mormon bishop with responsibilities to assist homeless people, I quickly learned Tooele was not immune to the problem grabbing Salt Lake headlines.
There are hundreds among us surfing couches, sleeping in the canyons, staying in broken down cars, and slumbering in abandoned buildings.
King Benjamin of the Book of Mormon taught, “Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just…
“For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have…
“O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.”
I am unaware of any magic solution to resolve the homeless crisis facing us. I know I can do better — much better to positively impact those who face bigger challenges than I ever dreamed of.
Charlie Roberts is a former LDS bishop of the Tooele 6th Ward.