WHO do you think they are, those displaced, disposable beings you walk by on the street?
WHO could be so insignificant that you would need to look away, to pretend they don’t exist?
WHO could instill such fear and hatred into their fellow man?
They are you, and me, and every other person whose journey through life has been less than perfect. We are the blessed ones, the lucky escapees, those that managed to scrabble back from the edge by the skin of our teeth and carry on in our oh so comfortable yet oh so tenuous, ignorant bliss. Blindly tiptoeing through life, one missed pay check away from becoming the WHO that we so naively fear.
But oh to look at the real WHO and see their faces, their smiles, their joy and such friendships. To feel their warmth and kindness, the selfless acts of those with so little can bring you so much. WHO could you become if you opened your mind and heart to those WHO you once walked by?
WHAT has led them to such lonely tragedy, such downtrodden despair?
WHAT have they done in their lives to deserve such a dreadful fate?
WHAT horror would befall me if I were to take a moment from my cosseted security and make eye contact, or perhaps engage in a conversation with those that have fallen from the grace of civilization?
One slight stumble, one wrong move, one missed payment, one unpaid job, one last argument, one failed interview, one late reference, one additional need, one bad choice, one bad friend, one neglectful childhood, that’s WHAT led them to this place in time. These single moments; these errors in judgment and just plain bad luck, these foolish mistakes and failures by others, these split second decisions and long term destructions are WHAT brought them to this place in their lives where a way out seems as intangible as a warm bed.
Yet it only takes one smile, one kind word, one hot meal, one warm coat, one meaningful embrace, one shared laugh, one song, one story, one chance to see past WHAT you thought you knew to find exactly WHAT you were missing.
WHEN did it become even vaguely acceptable to pass by another human being in trouble?
WHEN did the human race fall so far from humanity that it feels comfortable to look upon its fellow man at his lowest point and turn away?
WHEN did our society, our oh so British, oh so proud society disintegrate so far beyond absolution, that a man sleeping on the ground can be despised so much that he is beaten and berated by passersby?
That day you walked past, holding your child’s hand, and they saw you pretend that the man who asked you for change was invisible. That day you taught them to turn a blind eye.
On that shopping trip WHEN you sat with your friend and drank the coffee inside that gorgeous bistro and complained about the scruffy couple outside the window.
“Why do they need to sit there? It shouldn’t be allowed! They should be moved on!”
Together you chose judgment over compassion.
WHEN we turn our hearts and minds away from those that may have lost their way. WHEN we lose sight of the thinnest of lines between our own lives and theirs. WHEN we become cold and hard to the troubles and needs of people around us, that is WHEN. That is the time that we no longer deserve the title human.
It doesn’t need to be this way. WHEN you choose kindness and love your own life will become much richer. The most courageous, strong, interesting, funny, thoughtful, kind and grateful people I have been lucky enough to meet are those who have nothing. They have taught me how little some of our most precious comforts really matter. WHEN we strip away the nonsense that guides our every move, WHEN we remove the endless, insatiable need for more, and we take a true and proper look at our own lives, we can finally understand the things that are most important are not things at all, but people.
WHERE have they come from?
WHERE is their self-respect, shouldn’t they should sort themselves out?
WHERE do they think they are? This is a public space for decent people!
Wherever there are people with lives, those lives can unravel. Tell me WHERE the evidence is that shows only those that deserve hardship will fall on hard times. Have you never asked yourself in a moment of despair “WHERE did I go wrong?” They have come from us, from our failure as a society to recognize and react when we see those around us failing. When those we hold dear take a wrong turn we shy away from the human responsibility to see WHERE they have become lost and help to guide them back. WHERE this empathy and love for the community we are a part of has gone is anyone’s guess. WHERE we go from here is up to us. I choose love, I choose hope, I choose people.
WHY isn’t someone doing something about this?
WHY don’t they move them on? It shouldn’t be allowed!
WHY should I give them my hard earned money? They’ll only spend it on drugs or drink!
WHY may it seem as though no one is doing anything? Is it because the number of rough sleepers in the UK rises every year? Is it because a trip to the town centre forces you to notice just how our society is letting its most vulnerable members down? For all of our failings, and believe me they are many, some are trying. WHY you may not see this is because they are struggling to dent the surface of the problem. WHY this problem exists with our wealth and wastefulness is utterly beyond me. WHY we cannot shift the balance of wealth and prosperity just enough that no one is without basic human dignity seems a question we shouldn’t have to ask.
This is WHY I have chosen to join the ranks of those denting the surface. WHY I smile and laugh more in the company of these people who have nothing, has been a most joyful surprise. This is WHY I find my own desire for ‘things’ dissipating, and human contact and kindness now take pride of place as my most essential need: WHY I choose to share this at every available opportunity, WHY I search for chances in my day to show others that someone cares, that someone has noticed, that someone is thinking about them.
WHO you are is wholly dependent on
WHAT you do.
WHEN things go wrong for those around us
WHERE are you? Helping them back up? If not, it’s time to look at