Life lessons at the bus stop.

As I stood outside the fruit market while my mom went inside to buy some produce,  I had the opportunity to be a bit of a wallflower and watch how the general public reacted to a man who was homeless.

This man was not doing anything wrong. He was sitting on a bus bench wearing his khaki pants and a long sleeve shirt simply asking "spare some change?" to the passers by. Although he may have been a little unkept what with his hair askew and his beard longer than most, he was not doing anything wrong. 
As I stood there watching people's reactions to him I was blown away by the rudeness and pride that they showed him...
Some chose to pretend they couldn't hear him and continue walking past as though he did not exist; others would avoid eye contact and say sorry as they walked past him hurriedly. One woman walked past with her two kids, looked him in the eye, looked away and said loudly "Nope!" in a very sarcastic tone. Finally the last man to walk by before I could not stand by and watch anymore gave him an awful glare and then looked to me for affirmation of his betterment than this poor man. 

I got the chance to chat briefly with this man when I gave him a popsicle and he seemed totally astounded that someone would take the time to stop and talk to him. The awful glare man actually stopped and stared at me as I stood talking to him. 

I cannot believe the way people treated him. He is a person, with a soul, and an opinion. Regardless of the circumstances he is in now he should still be acknowledged as a person with feelings! And for the woman who was so rude to him in front of her two kids, imagine the lesson they are taught through that: That they, because they feel as though they are worth more, because they are born into a family of privilege or because they weren't born with a mental illness that would cause working to be extraordinarily different or impossible, feel as though they can look down on others!? That is disgusting. 

On the walk back my mom was telling me of the author of Under the Overpass, Mike Yankoski who she interviewed. In order to write the book he decided he needed to walk a mile in the shoes of a homeless person. So he spent exactly one month on the street. Within FOUR days, he was eating food out of garbages. By the end of it the biggest thing that affected him was the loss of dignity and feeling unhuman. He went an entire 24 hours without having anyone talk to him or make eye contact with him! He barely felt human by the end of it. 

We all have basic needs. We all need to feel alive. We all crave human interaction. People who are homeless need to be loved and cared for just as much as anyone else does. Something as simple as EYE CONTACT, or a "hello" or to look them in the eye and say "Sorry, I don't have any change on me" makes all the difference. It gives them some sense of dignity back. 

So here's my challenge for you:
Don't walk past people who are homeless or walking a harder road than you with a sense of self-righteousness or pride, but rather humble yourself and acknowledge that with one change of the cards that could be YOU sitting there. Be aware of the example you are showing to others, to your kids, your peers. 
Be the change. 

No comments:

Post a Comment