I live in Dallas, Texas and have seen a number of homeless people wandering the streets of Downtown near the Central Dallas Public Library, some actually laying on the ground covered in an old grey blanket or a piece of cardboard and some seek refuge in the library to wash in the public bathrooms and rest at tables pretending to be reading a magazine, hoping they won’t be seen by security and made to leave.
When I am sometimes approached by either a homeless person or just a common peddler or beggar, for enough money to catch a bus I always give a dollar if I have it or just say, sorry I don’t have any money.
I don’t go out of my way by saying hey get away from me you creep. I have seen the homeless hang out on Harry Hines Blvd., across from Parkland Hospital, near the bus stops, trying to get enough change for a beer at the local pub around the corner or even digging in the trash for something to eat.
I was standing one day, at the bus stop, across from Parkland, to take the bus back to Oak Cliff to the Hampton Station while I noticed a dirty and poorly dressed man in his 50’s rummaging in the trash cans near the bus stop waiting area where benches are made to set and wait and be protected from rain. I could have ignored it but instead, I asked the man, You want an apple? he smiled and took the apple and began walking away and turned back once more and smiled at me again. This must have made him real happy.
I pondered what he was going to do next. and I figured maybe he’s going to give it to another homeless person or trade it for a cigarette. But whatever happened, I simply felt better being generous. I could have given him money but money isn’t what he was looking for in the garbage can. Food was. Starvation is a terrible reality and it’s a hard concept to wrap our heads around being so well off, with our job and our paycheck and our weekly visits to the supermarket.
Is there a way to really help these people? You tell me. But just to be fair, I think there are many of us who have been in my situation and had to ask themselves do I ignore this guy or do I ask what he needs?
If you don’t want the guy to buy a six pack don’t give him money, but if you have a bottle of water or a sandwich by all means give it to him. He will probably barter this stuff for cigarettes but then again he may just live another day and having eaten your doughnut and coffee or whatever you gave him, that extra day of life you just gave that homeless guy or person down on his or her luck, that might just be the one day in their pathetic circumstances to turn their life around and get proper help.
It is only through good deeds that we pass it on to create a ripple in the good deeds of mankind one on one, one person at a time, The big picture would be seeing more people just taking a look at these people and instead of turning a blind eye and walking away and pretending they don’t even exist, turn around and say, would you like something to eat or do you need help?
I always feel bad for them, but feel worse if I walk away because I am naturally empathetic towards those less fortunate than myself. This is the way I was taught in cub scouts and this is the way I look at the world to day, to be a part of the solution, not a part of the I don’t care about anyone. Apathy is not what I’m about.