Want of Confidence…

Last month, I had training hosted at our downtown public library. As I sat outside with others in our group waiting for the doors to open, a man who looked a bit down on his luck said hello to me. I looked up and smiled and said hello back. [Note: the man pauses for several seconds after every sentence he says.]

Man: How are you?

Me: Doing well. How are you?

Man: I’m hungry. I haven’t eaten all day.

Me: Well, it’s only 8.43 a.m. There’s still time to get breakfast.

Man: Yeah. [long pause]

Man: Are you a Christian?

Me: Yes, yes, I try to be one.

Man: No one who says they’re a Christian lives like one.

Me: Yes, well, that is true of most of them, but not true of all. A few people who say they are Christians do live like they are. Not many, but a few. So while I agree with you that most don’t, I believe a few do.

Man: Why do you want to be a Christian?

Me: Because I believe that it’s the best way of explaining how God has revealed Himself to us.

Man: Oh. [long pause]

Man: Do you believe that God created white people and that the devil created black people? [the man talking to me is black] An old white lady told me that once. She thought I stole her computer.

Me: No, I absolutely do not believe that. That is a bunch of crap and that old white lady was completely wrong.

Man: How do you know for certain so you would say ‘no’ that quick? I mean, how do you know that?

Me: Because I’m smart and because I know that evil can’t create anything and I know that isn’t what real Christians believe. Evil can twist things and hurt you and destroy things, but it can’t ever create anything.

Man: Well that old lady said that to me. And she put me in jail for six months for stealing that computer over at Patten [Patten Towers, where I have a weekly reading group, is across the block from the library] but I didn’t steal it and then she said black people were created by the devil.

Me: Uhm, I’m not sure she could put you in jail by herself, but she was totally and completely wrong and I’m sorry you’ve had a hard time.

Man: Yeah. [long long pause.]

Man: Well, I don’t know what I’m going to do today. I’m hungry.

Me: Do you need something to help you get some breakfast?

Man: You don’t have to give me anything. I don’t want to take your money.

Me: It’s okay, I have a couple of bucks.

Man: Why are you being so nice to me?

Me: I’m not being nice. I’m not nice, it’s okay. Take care of yourself, be safe today, get something to eat, okay?

Man: Okay. [turns and leaves]

I see others from the training looking at me quizzically.

Me: I’m an easy mark.


And I am. To quote from Howard’s End: ‘ “It’s better to be fooled than to be suspicious” — that the confidence trick is a work of man, but the want-of-confidence-trick is the work of the devil.’



About mizmonk

Thinking about it. I am not my job, but I don't do much other than work, so . . . wait, what was the question again??
This entry was posted in Education and all that, Is that love?, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Want of Confidence…

  1. Becca Leech says:

    Or whether you see yourself as Christian or not there’s always Walt Whitman…“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families…” Wouldn’t that be a world we could live in?

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