This past week we had some late “April showers.” I actually like to walk the city when it is raining. There are less people out and you can focus on the city. You see things that you normally don’t see due to having fewer distractions from those around you. I walked over to Dupont Circle. This is one of my favorite places to go to people watch and interestingly enough it is also a great place to go when it is raining and nobody is out. You really get to take in the greenery, the sound of the water cascading over the fountain, and the overall peacefulness of this urban respite.
In the center stands a fountain. Built in 1921, it replaced the statue of Samuel Francis Du Pont which was moved to Rockford Park in Wilmington, DE. The fountain was designed by the same folks who designed the Lincoln Memorial. They created three figures that represent the sea, the stars and the wind.
It makes a nice backdrop for photos.
As I made my way around the circle I found David sitting on top of the backrest of the benches that corral the fountain. To his right rested a bicycle still beaded with the previous hour’s raindrops.
David had just finished his job waiting tables at a local Italian restaurant. He is also an English student at the University of the District of Colombia who expects to graduate in December of 2011. I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that David belongs to an elite subset of my recipients who live in the DC area and were also born here. It’s a very transient city so this is not as common as one might think.
At 27 David has decided to go back to school to get his college degree after years of working odd jobs: bike messenger, construction, life guarding, etc. He also enjoys painting and drawing in his spare time.
I really enjoyed meeting David. He mentioned that the Year of Giving
reminded him of Time Banks. This concept was vaguely familiar to me, but I went online and checked them out and absolutely love the concept. Basically you give of your time to others. For every hour of time you give, you earn an hour of credit that you can “cash” in to receive someone else’s time. Brilliant idea. There are a couple of DC Time Bank groups that I will explore. If anyone has experience working with Time Banks I would love to hear from you.
He also shared with me a quote from Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” speech given at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. – Martin Luther King
I love this quote. David and I share King’s belief in a people oriented society. All too often today our brains get cluttered with unnecessary garbage that clouds our vision. We lose sight of the basic principles that once guided my grandparents’ daily lives. But I realize that this only happens if we allow it. I am more committed than ever before to focus firmly on what really matters: our brothers and sisters in our community and the world.
As I left, I circled back to my leading question. David said that his impulse was to give the $10 away to a homeless person. I hope he shares with us the details of his experience.