This has nothing to do with writing in any way, but that doesn’t matter.
Every day I go out I see homeless people. Lots of them. In the three miles I just drove, I saw four, including a man I’ve tried talking to before but who is clearly to embarrassed to speak kindly to anybody, and possibly one of the many who have an untreated mental illness. I will not hold his belligerence against him. He is in a hard spot, and it doesn’t feel good relying on charity, and I’m sure he’s in constant state of being sick. Contrary to twisted belief, most homeless people aren’t homeless because of bad choices they decided to make. Lay-offs happen. Illnesses happen. A landlord wanting the unit back and not being able to come up the the deposit in a new place fast enough. The bank giving bonuses to employees for “losing” the refi paperwork again and committing fraud in other ways. And getting a new job can be difficult without a residence, and getting a residence is impossible without income. Aside from modern-day hippies, no one wants to be homeless.
I live in the United States, supposedly the richest country on the planet. If this is so, why are so many people on the streets lacking the basics? Why do we have more vacant housing units than there are people needing them? Why does this country, one that have so much food that it’s routinely thrown out without a second glance for something as minor as a blemish, have people who don’t know when they’ll next have a meal that isn’t the discards from a trash can? GREED, that’s why. Too many people wanting to squeeze every penny they can out of everyone, too many people all too glad to further the economic divide as if bank account balance is a measure of a human’s worth.
Franky this is disgusting. Every first-world country in the entire world, EVERY SINGLE ONE, has more than enough to feed and house not only all of its own citizens, but enough food to feed everyone in every other country who doesn’t have enough to eat. We don’t even need to grow more. Just what we waste and overeat could ensure everyone has enough.
Now winter is coming up in the northern hemisphere. Depending on where you are, this means people will freeze and die from weather in addition to starvation. Their names are likely to be unknown as their bodies are sent to mass graves or cremations. Very likely their hearts will ache with loneliness before they take their last breaths, wishing someone cared enough to have given them a smile that day. How have we come to be a world where the very basics of survival and an act of kindness as small as acknowledging a person’s existence are considered to be luxuries?
My plea to you is this:
Please find a spare blanket. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It can be mended, a pattern from the 70’s, anything that is warm and clean and that just sits in a closet somewhere. Stick it in your car. If you don’t have a car, stick it by the front door with you and take it when you leave to go shopping or to do another errand. When you see a homeless person, and you surely will, give it to that person with a hug and an encouraging word. That blanket may be all it takes to keep someone from dying, and that hug and kind word, may be all someone needs to rethink giving up on life.
If you can find it in yourself, the next time you go by a homeless person, head to the next fast food place and get a hot meal with a coffee. If you have a computer and internet, you can probably spare a few dollars. Drive back to that person and park. Get out of the car and take that meal to that person, and again, give a hug and a word of encouragement. You may want to get home where it’s snug and warm, but you can spare ten minutes for the save of someone who has nothing.
Do each of these just once and see if you can so easily drive past someone later and turn your heart off. If each person could do these just one time, that would go a long way to that person in need. That blanket should be warming a body instead of the shelf, and that meal may mean you skip buying a bag of chips you don’t need, but the food, even if not the healthiest, will stave off starvation. Just care, and if you don’t care, do it anyway and see if you still don’t. Compassion is a human right. The small gestures really do mean a lot.