I am patiently waiting for the traffic light to change. Standing in the center divider is a man. He is holding a sign that reads, “Hungry, homeless, need help”. He has a kind smile and sad eyes. I don’t know what his story is.
What I do know is that, suddenly, my little hybrid car, stainless steel water bottle and reusable bag full of organic groceries seem to not matter at all. What good is caring for the Earth if we cannot care for the very inhabitants of our planet? We cannot have compassion for all living things and disregard our fellow humans. These are humans that have needs just like everyone else, they have emotions and feelings and hopes and dreams.
This most likely won’t be my most popular post. But sometimes things need to be said or perhaps just expressed in written words.
Regardless of where you live, you have witnessed a person, invisible to society, asking for help. I personally experienced this recently, it was sometime around the holidays. I had to make several stops and one of these stops was at our local Walgreens. As I pulled into the parking lot, little did I know that my purchases at this store would include something that money cannot buy.
While parking my car, I noticed a woman sitting on the bench in front of the store. As I stepped out, she said something to me that I didn’t quite understand. I quickly realized she was asking for help. I walked closer to her and said: “Hello, do you need some help?” She shared with me that she was thirsty and hungry. I asked if she would like to accompany me inside the store so that she may pick out what she needed. She agreed with much gratitude. She picked out a soda and a bag of chips. I was able to convince her to also select a bottle of water. I asked her if she needed anything else, but she refused. As I paid for her choices, she said thank you and scurried out the door. It cost me less than $5. While I was grateful that I was able to help, it also made me upset. I was upset that some people don’t have the basic needs to survive. I was sad that they are often ignored by society. I came home and thought about ways I could help.
Situations like this are often ignored. We turn our heads the other way. It’s viewed as someone else’s problem, or I am a taxpayer and that should be enough to help others out. Well, it isn’t. It’s ignored because it’s uncomfortable. Sadly, we live in a time where we are more concerned with building walls and fighting wars to “protect” our people. The irony of it all is what good are these walls when the society within is crumbling?
There are ways to help- we can make care bags to pass out, volunteer at local shelters and soup kitchens or make a donation. You can make a difference- please don’t think it is someone else’s to deal with. Take ownership of supporting humanity.
Offering assistance to someone, free of conditions and expectations for any type of return with the strong possibility that you will never see that person again is a fulfilling exercise in the practice of “letting go”.
Society, as a whole, wants to do the right thing and provide assistance where needed, so here are a few points to keep in mind.
- Offering assistance to someone does not imply that you put yourself, or loved ones, in potentially dangerous situations.
- Realize that not everyone will understand your intentions.
- Always follow your own intuition.
- Research the many ways you can safely and effectively assist individuals in your own community.
Here are some organizations that provide assistance to the homeless: