Have you ever walked by someone sitting on the street with a cardboard sign, tattered clothes, and a cup of change in front of them? What do you do at this moment? Do you give whatever change is in your pocket? Turn a blind eye? Or stare curiously?
Often times, it is a combination of these. At first, we may feel startled by their appearances and then compassion for whatever cry for help is written on their sign-- at least most of the time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling compassion for others but it’s what you choose to do with those feelings of compassion that defines your moral compass. We may feel compelled to help out a total stranger or not help them at all and feel guilty moments later for not doing so.
Nevertheless, we think about ourselves in that moment; a moment that should be about helping others. We think about how good karma will come to us if we give, or how bad karma will make its way to us if we don’t. We think about how they may perceive us, privileged and better-off. We think about how others may see us; are we being filmed on a hidden camera testing for ‘random acts of kindness’? Or did that person just judge me because they gave money and I didn’t? The problem is that we think too much about ourselves.
The stigma around the labels “homeless," “bums,” “hobos," however we refer to them as, has failed to allow us to recognize that these are human beings. They may be war veterans, recovering drug addicts, or just misfortunate individuals, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are human beings.
Everyone has gone through rough patches in their lives-- granted, it may not have been to the extent of being homeless. Nonetheless, we got through those rough patches with the help of that one person (or persons) who gave us that break. What if you could be that one person for a total stranger? By doing something as simple as giving them your pocket change or leftovers from your meal. Everyone goes through rough patches from time to time, and no one gets out without a little help from others along the way.
We are all of the same species and there’s no reason for us to think any less of another human being because of their appearance, socioeconomic status or hardships. As a firm believer in the ‘pay it forward’ methodology, I believe that an act of kindness can lead to many. It just takes one person to start that chain reaction of positivity and inspire others to take part in it as well. So the next time you see someone on the street going through a hard time, do something positive for them.
Something as simple as acknowledging their presence, giving them your pocket change, or leftovers could possibly make their day. You’ll find that living selflessly can bring a lot of positivity back to you in return. Live life by the golden rule: “treat others how you would want to be treated” and remember that every day is a new opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life.