Sit Down And Talk To One Homeless Person This Year. It Will Change Your Perspective.
This morning as I was walking to work here in the Crowne Plaza I noticed one homeless man helping another one back onto a bus bench on the corner of 1st ave and 27th street. It looked like the man slid right off the bench. He looked like he was in pain to me so I stopped to see if he was OK. When I asked him if he needed help he said yes and told me that 3 police cars had driven by him and no one tried to help. He was an African-American gentleman with blue eyes who I would estimate was 75 years old. I imagine he was very handsome when he was younger.
I suppose it's understandable that the police didn't stop to help in that there are plenty of homeless people downtown and a man sitting on a bus bench looking sad is nothing new to them. They are busy and I get that. I could tell, however, that something wasn't right and called 911 to tell them what I saw and that the gentleman was hurting. I offered him food or something to drink which he refused. He just wanted help because he was in pain. I told him I'd sit with him until help arrived which was about 10 minutes. He told me he was from the south and talked about his family and how he wished he could go back but he couldn't afford it. His clothes were dirty and life has obviously been hard for him and he's probably too old and broken down to work. I had to stop myself from crying several times because no one should have to live like that... especially someone old who can't take care of themselves any more. Not in this country. I controlled my emotions more for him than myself because my life is a dream compared to what he's going through so what right do I have to cry?
Please, before you judge everyone who is homeless, remember that many are old and in bad health and many, if not most, suffer from some kind of mental illness. They once had dreams and aspirations like you and I. Whether through their own doing or circumstance they are homeless though few would choose to be if they could help it. Sit down with one homeless person this year and just talk to them. Ask them about their family and where they're from. Treat them like real human beings. If you do I guarantee you'll look at the world differently. It'll be the one small thing you can do this year to make the Earth a better place. Understanding is a beautiful thing!
(He is not the man pictured on this bench. I didn't take his picture because I wanted to protect his identity)