4. A Man, a Cart, and a Question
I saw him on Paulista Street in San Paulo—the man pulling a cart like a horse.
Paulista Street is Brazil's Wall Street, only it's not like Wall Street, narrow, sided by ancient buildings, filled with the waiting limousines of the privileged sitting under no parking signs. No, Paulista Street is a modern metropolitan canyon with six lanes of rapidly moving traffic walled on each side by wide pavements and gleaming towers built by the great banks of the world--Citibank, USB, HSB, Itau--all expressions of Brazil's emerging economy.
There he was--the man-horse pulling his cart piled high with heavy plastic bags of trash taller then he was, surrounded by cars, taxis, trucks, and buses--running for all he was worth to keep ahead of the impatient vehicles that were just inches behind him. Dressed in sandals, shorts, tee-shirt, and a cap, his leather brown legs flashing by me caught my attention and made me think, Why? Why would a man live like a horse? What drives him? A family to feed? His own stomach to fill? Love for those who love him? Could a man who lives like a horse know anything about love? What was he thinking about? What could he think about except traffic, survival, staying ahead of those roaring buses? I wonder if he took an assessment test that told him he was created to live like a horse.
What must he be feeling? How could he even have time to think or feel? Surely somewhere in his soul he had to feel shame, humiliation, even grief over the loss of the dignity God created for him. Here he was, created in the image of God, pulling a cart like a horse. Men aren't supposed to live like horses, driven by forces they can't control to a fate they can't avoid. What if he fell down? What difference would that make to those who would scrape him up and cart him off like a horse?
Do you think anyone ever told him God loves him and has a wonderful plan for his life? Does God have a wonderful plan for his life? How could he ever find out? What could I do? Run after him and call out, "Bom dia?" What would I say next? I can't speak Portuguese. And what would he say? "Get out of my way, you fool, before you get me killed!" Besides I could never catch him--he'd run me into the ground in a matter of moments. I can't run with the man-horses! What can I do? What can anyone do?
O, God, what can we do about the man who lives like a horse? About all the men all over the world who live like horses?
Questions to Ponder
- What do you feel when you read about a man racing to keep up with traffic, pulling a cart piled higher than he is tall with trash he will sell to make a living? Gratitude that you don't have to live that way? Anger that someone must? Frustration that you can't do anything about it?
- What do you think God feels when he sees a man made in his image, A man for whom Christ died, living like a horse?
- What are you doing to live up to the privilege God has given you to live with dignity and opportunity?
- What can you do to help others around you enjoy that same privilege?