Making a different

How often to we look up and truly see who is around you?

How often do we look to try and recognize anything of ourself in strangers?

Where I live now north of Austin is very much the same as any fast growing or large city, everybody lives in their little 3 foot bubble with the majority focusing solely on themselves. I have even heard people complain about how lonely it is here. Keep this in mind as you read.

I've spoken before, through social media posts mostly, about how quite often the clothing we wear, the shirt designs I create and sell, is like raising our flag to tell others around us something about us (a display of some part of our ideology) from which they could usually surmise some portion of the rest. At times, like an instance for myself this past Sunday, one will wear something that screams at others though no one will hear the message. The people wearing such things generally feel the screaming is to keep others away it, more times than not, they are screaming out hoping for someone of like mind and understanding to hear them.

I work as a part of the security detail at my wife's church and usually act as their ambassador when the more concerning (concerning in that they scare suburban upper middle class white people) sorts arrive, every sort from drug addicted homeless to violent domestic situations to the one guy trying to flash the kids as they left the children's building. This past Sunday a taller fighting age (mid 20's) white male wearing a hooded sweatshirt (hood up and over his face) with "guns" on it walked briskly through the courtyard and lobby, into the auditorium, took a hard right, and sat in the very last row in the corner. A security officer and myself marked him and hung out seeing where this road would take us. At the end of service I stood at the bottom of the stairs in that row to do my usual meet and greet. As he made his way down the stairs I noticed the front design on his hoodie included the word "Bagdad".
And the story takes a turn which led me to an opportunity. The younger gentleman is a Marine, did almost 2 years between Bagdad and Kuwait, was handed his DD214 18 months ago and has been on the struggle bus ever since here in the greater Austin area. He came to church looking for something; all he could describe it as was "something". We spoke, I introduced him to another Marine who spent a number of years at Camp Pendleton as he did, and the three of us did the usual "getting to know you" indirect vetting process before getting to the meat of things. His story is not unlike many, he's a warrior who was only taught how to warrior who rotated back to society with no instruction book on how "civilization" works and no brotherhood to lean on. Lost, depressed, alone were the descriptive terms that were glaringly at me as we spoke. He told his story and broke down. It is the first time in over 20 years a man has cried on my shoulder. I brought him back and we discussed direction, purpose, managing the bullshit (and tools that help do so like the gym), and pointed out that he may have shown up alone but he will leave with 2 people on his side.

I hope to see him again next week.

I share all this because solitude and blindness towards others has seemed to become quite the problem. People have all but completely lost the ability to connect in person. Everyone runs off to social media and texting, which in and of themselves is fine, but we seemed to have lost the desire to be present. I myself took this as a reminder to continue to greet people often wherever I go, and to my wife's dismay at times, and to always keep in mind the importance a "hello" can make.


“People have all but completely lost the ability to connect in person.” – I 100% agree with this statement. I hope you see him next week also. Thank you for your service to our nation and to others.

Dawn January 10, 2024

Mr. Compton, what I just read hits home. I myself have been in similar situations, being in Law Enforcement for over 30 years , and still serving I have encountered several people, warriors that have no direction looking for guidance. Simply talking , buying them a meal or a cup of coffee and listening to them and giving them assistance. Thank you for for everything you do, Sir !

Jody Deal January 10, 2024

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