Monday, September 30, 2013

Where Is The Heart Of Our Society?

I've been doing some work on a project that takes me to different cities.  In these cities, I don't just travel the "ritzy" places, but I also travel into the areas that most have never seen or will ever see.  It isn't the places where tourists go or the places you take your family to a Sunday afternoon dinner.

These places are where you see the ladies of the night walking the street, and the people pushing their shopping carts loaded with their belongings.  These places are where you the depressed, sad, and lonely faces as you hear people talking to themselves as if they have an imaginary friend right beside them.  These places are where the buildings are boarded up with iron bars protecting them from those struggling to survive in this life.

Yet, at the same time, it is not uncommon to see the wealth of our society and even the not so wealthy drive past these areas, as if they are in a hurry.  It is not uncommon to see people so accustomed to these things around them, that I doubt most are aware it exists any longer.  Of course, you never see the local or national politicians come through these areas asking for votes.  You don't see the charity drives taking place here, nor do you see businessman recruiting these people for jobs.

Before you think I'm trying to make everyone feel guilty or before you think that I think this is a problem that can be easily solved, let me stop you at this point.  I don't know how we solve these issues of poverty, homelessness and despair that many of our fellow citizens are in.  I probably don't have any better solutions than anyone else and I know there are many front line people working hard to make a difference.

I just wish as a nation and as a world, we all took a moment to find some way to make a difference.  Sure, there are people who don't want help and some that no matter what you do, you won't change one bit.  There are so many though that need a helping hand and more likely than not, they are our neighbors, friends and colleagues. 

Today, I saw a guy sitting in a fast food restaurant, hungry and well worn from the elements of life.  He had gone into the establishment to ask for a water.  While he was sitting there, he looked over at me a few times and I had already connected with him through my heart.  Why I didn't think of this first, I don't know, but I'm glad he broke the silence and asked me a question.  In his very polite and sincere voice, he asked me if I could spare a few dollars for a meal.  I'm usually cautious about just handing money to anyone because I've seen the people faking poverty just to earn a living that is often more than what I make.

This guy was different and I sensed a genuineness with him. So, I said, hold on a minute and I took him inside and let him order what he wanted.  Sure, the guy could have been just getting a free meal out of me, but I know what I sensed.  He looked at me with and said, "thank you very much".  It was respectful and joyful and almost in a way that someone caring about him for a minute made a difference in his day.  I just let him get his food and left him to go eat alone.

Many years ago, I came to a point in life where I didn't know what as going to happen to me.  I had lost everything and the place I was staying required my rent to be paid in a few days.  I didn't have the money to pay it and so I began sorting through my stuff and getting ready to load my car with my most important possessions.  I was preparing to live in my car until I could find another job and get myself going.  I was within about 2 days of being on the street.  It was not a good feeling and the emotional struggle it created within my mind and body was like an earthquake of epic magnitude.

I've had times when I was a kid that some popcorn was the only meal I got.  In those times, a free lunch at school was about all I would get to eat, or some government giveaway peanut butter, dried eggs and powdered milk became my only meal.  As a kid, I remember going to bed hungry at nights.  So, while I may not know what it is like to be homeless, I've experienced things that help me to understand this a little more.

There is no easy solution and while I fully believe one person can make a difference, there is only so much one person can do in this situation.  However, to sit back and watch these people suffer in silence on their own, I believe that is a crime against humanity.  We all have much more than we believe we do.  Things that are common to most of us these days, are luxuries in the eyes of the homeless and hungry.

Maybe you can't do a lot for all the homeless and hungry people, but maybe there is something small you can do.  It isn't always about money.  Sometimes it is about changing our attitude towards the less fortunate and maybe even venturing into their world for a brief time.  If we don't see these people and we don't see what they have to deal with in life, how would we even begin to see them as our brothers and sisters.

If you do any kind of work that benefits these people, please feel free to comment below with the name of your organization.  I'm looking for legitimate things here, not a license to spam me with your online scams.  I'm not sure if this blog can do a lot, but if I can help in any way, I will let my words speak for themselves.

May we all rise up together and become one, rather than standing above others in our own little world.  May we see each other through our hearts as a society, rather than closing our eyes to those that are different and less fortunate.  If everyone just did something and if everyone just changed their viewpoint on our society, we would begin to change the world.

Blog Post And Images (c) 9/30/13 by Don Shetterly

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