Saturday, October 26, 2013
Acts of Humanity
Too often all that is ever reported or featured is the worst humanity has to offer. Some act of violence or senseless depravity seems to always shine in the spotlight and it doesn’t matter the medium. Television, computer, radio...it’s become nauseating to think this is the sum of who we are...the totality of what it is to be human. Fortunately, I’m not easily swayed by all the hoopla and happen to know better. I know firsthand that the nature of being human is more than the constant negative news feed of the hour.
Recently a very touching story was impressed upon me that left me speechless and had me reevaluating my contribution to making this world a better place to live. It isn’t the first time this has happened to me, nor do I expect it will be the last. The subject of the situation, however, has twice given me pause about my effort to make a positive effect upon it.
I know there are people of compassion that meaningfully contribute their time and/or money to making life better for someone living in hardship. After all, there are numerous programs abound that are dedicated to helping people in need...and those programs operate with the influence of other good people. There are many reading this now that have at one time or another, donated money to a charity or program with the intent that those funds be used to help another. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say that most people involved in helping others probably help in this way.
As I said earlier, a recent event brought the notion of helping someone else into sharper focus, while also reminding me that there are people that contribute in a very personal and intimate way regarding the issue of homelessness and poverty. I’ll get to the reminder in a bit, but first let me retell a situation that, had I been present for, would have effected me as profoundly as the person that was touched by a life less fortunate.
A woman and her mother ordered some food from their favorite Mediterranean restaurant and sat down to enjoy a meal both had been looking forward to all day. Eating as much as the could or wanted to, they packed up their area and threw away their trash. Just as they were departing to continue their day’s activities, they witnessed something most of us don’t see on a daily basis. A young man, probably in his early twenties, had dug their trash out of the barrel and went about eating whatever scraps he could find on their plates.
The woman, completely stunned, was cascaded by a maelstrom of emotions, for she had sons the same age as this homeless man. Her first thought was to give the young man money, but with only $5 in her pocket, felt it was inadequate to the situation at hand. Instead, she approached the man and offered to take him into the same restaurant and have a meal. Feeling the eyes of all the patrons on them, she told the man to order anything he wanted...including a drink and dessert. She was short on cash, but long in credit, and charged the meal. As the man began to take his meal outside, she impressed upon him that he need not battle the elements while eating his meal. It was paid for like anyone else, and like anyone else, he had the right to sit in the warmth of the restaurant. He thanked her avidly and it was an emotional moment for both of them. As he began to eat, she left and continued her day...making sure the $5 she had, found it’s way on his table.
I can only imagine how charged this moment was, but I know it was powerful from the telling as was told to me by the woman, with tears in her eyes. It was powerful for me to hear it...from my wife, about the day she had, out with her mother.
We all see people on the street holding signs and asking for spare change. As humans, some of us give some of the time, and some of us don’t. We are aware of the homeless, but rarely do we have an encounter where our scraps are made into a meal right in front of us. I am told it was a humbling and heart-wrenching experience.
Now I said earlier that this situation was not the first time I’ve been spurred to evaluate my societal contribution with this subject. I’ve had the honor of spending much of my youth with a man named Jamarhl Crawford, who is currently running for the District 7 seat of the Boston City Council. Anyone wishing to talk about service to the community would be hard-pressed to find someone more committed. Long before community residents pressured him to run, he was actively addressing the problem of hunger for those without a home.
I often ask myself if I am doing enough, am I doing all I can to affect this issue, the community, in a positive way...and the honest answer, after watching the video below is...no. Why do I say that? Because the video is an example of something I am perfectly capable of. Even if I site time constraints for the shopping and preparation aspects, there is still no excuse for me not to be along side Mr. Crawford handing out plates to those in need of food. I know this because the time it took me to write this post is time I could have spent engaging in an act of humanity.
In the time it took you to read this post, you could have done the same. In a world where food is abundant, but not accessible to everyone...here is some food for thought: Are you doing enough?