I was on the train making my way home the other evening. When one of the few disturbing and slightly annoying “things” got on. A homeless man. As he started to make his begging way towards my end of the train, I noticed the reaction of the people around me. I saw people putting their earphones in, clutching their belongings tighter, and suddenly the floor became a point of interest for all standing passengers.
I couldn’t see the homeless guy as he made his way but I heard him. I heard no responses. I knew my turn was coming soon as he got closer and sure enough it came before I had even thought of a course of action. When he asked if I had change, I replied saying “Sorry. I don’t have any change.”
The homeless man got excited about my verbal response and thanked me. He made mention of all the reactions that I saw and said we have mouths to communicate for a reason. I laughed because I did not understand or agree with the other occupants’ decision to completely ignore this man. But it is their choice. I gave him a can of juice that I had yet to open. He thanked me once again as he took it said “God bless,” and left.
His reaction told me the one thing that made me wonder. It told me that he was used to being ignored. That made me wonder about the many people and communities in this world that would throw a civil rights fit, if their existence was blatantly ignored like the homeless. Let’s not even mention ALL the RELIGIONS that speak on how to deal with the poor and needy, that MOST people SUBSCRIBE to.
Now I am not a saint, nor am I trying to paint others as monsters for the way they choose to interact (or not) with others. I just think people should try alternative ways of interaction that doesn’t make make them appear heartless, or ignorant in some cases.
It takes no effort at all to ackowledge a person’s existence. It is not cosigning on their decisions in life or even a commitment to help them in their time of need. It’s simply saying, “Yes, I see you. I acknowledge that.” Just by doing that, is a help in itself. A help to both parties. Especially you.
By acknowledging that the other is still human, you don’t have to sit with the guilt of your act of inhumanity. More importantly, you won’t get comfortable with that inhumane feeling. No one can convince me that you can isolate those inhuman tendencies to react towards only a certain group. It is sure to waste over onto others, because WE ARE ALL HUMAN after all.