In the city to meet with friends tonight I was walking down Collins Street (Melbourne CBD) and saw this (pictured), sadly, an increasingly common sight in the "worlds most livable city". I read his sign as I walked past and started to feel deeply hurt by how unfortunate life has turned out for many people. Then as I was thinking about him I kept walking and passed many boutique stores with "luxury" items most probably made by people in countries that are in slightly better living conditions to this man. I felt ashamed, I felt hurt.
Here I was about to meet friends for dinner and a movie but I knew I couldn't take the image of this man out of my head. I'm not a wealthy person but I'm in a much better position to help this man out than he is with others. I went back, as I approached him I covered him with the umbrella, squatted down to the ground and introduced myself.
His name is Peter. He's not been homeless long (by his definition), only 9 months. He looked at me and I did not see a man addicted to drugs or alcohol, I saw a decent man who's life has unfortunately not turned out as he would have hoped - whose has?
We make the best of what we've got and then try to improve ourselves from there. I often battle with myself between wanting to achieve more and then being grateful for what I've achieved and doing more to help others.
This isn't about gloating or wanting praise, it's about remembering to be grateful for the present, grateful for what you DO have today and for the people who truly love and value you.
Imagine going a whole day without speaking to anyone, let alone a week or more. Imagine everyone looking at you like you're beneath them. Helping the homeless isn't all just about money and food, it's also about dignity and respect. Peter enjoyed our conversation, he was very thankful I stopped and gave him my time and because of the help I gave him, he'll be doing it a little less tough tonight.
#homelessness #humanity #dignity #respect