Pamphlet preachers and prophylactic peddlers

Pamphlet preachers and prophylactic peddlers

by -

Good intentions and morality aren’t the sole property of the pious. However, neither are they antithetical to their belief structure.
I approached the Student Union Building, intent upon sating my caffeine addiction. When I got closer, I noticed a little old man in a straw hat handing out pamphlets.
He had a small smile on his face, beatific and kind, and when people got close enough he’d whisper, “God bless” and hand them a pamphlet. Out of respect, I took one, nodded and kept moving.
Once inside the M.S.U.B. I noticed a small table up against the wall, opposite the bookstore. Behind it sat a few young men and women, and scattered across it were prophylactics and literature about them. One of them was texting, another was anxiously tapping a pen on the table and was looking out a window, as if he very much wanted to be elsewhere. The other two met my eye, smiled and nodded as I took one and walked by.
A few things struck me after I’d passed by that little table. First was that I had in one hand a pamphlet about God, and a condom in the other hand. I didn’t really have any use for either, but the disparity of the two items made their acquisition and my possession of them too entertaining to pass up.
Second, I suspected one group was a reaction to another — particularly that the pamphlet preacher was the counteraction to the prophylactic peddlers.
Lastly, it occurred to me that both these people were trying to help, or at least they believed they were. The condoms weren’t being handed out with any ill intent; they were meant to keep people from getting venereal diseases and prevent unwanted pregnancies in those unprepared for such a responsibility.
And the little old man in the straw hat was probably just trying to share something with the new generation which had brought him a certain amount of happiness and comfort.
Yet, there was a little wall between them. The young people behind the table didn’t walk out and talk with the old man, and he didn’t come inside to say hello to them. The space between them couldn’t have been more than a few feet, but they did nothing to close the gap.
I walked down the hall, got my coffee and made my way back. When I got to the door, the condom table was gone and so was the little old man in the straw hat.
It was like they’d never been there at all.

Joseph Frymire
JBN Director

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