This will be short, but important to those sensitive to the human condition. It is about our basic humanity and responsibility to respect our fellow-man.
I came upon the brief video below while reading a blog written by a thirty-something New York City area English teacher who is struggling with infertility. Her blog, The Empress and the Fool, is very much worth your attention, especially her recent post, Resolve to Know the Capacity of the Human Heart.
It is the video, however, that is my focus today. I’ve written before about the problem of the street people we see every day in any big city like Chicago. How do we look at these nameless people? What do we do when they importune us for money? How much respect or conversation or eye contact do we have with them? What do we think about them? You can read or reread that post here: On Giving to Street People.
What follows in the video is the answer to all those questions from the perspective of one homeless man who tries to survive in the area of Chicago’s downtown Metra station, the railroad that brings suburbanites like me into the city at the Union Station stop west of the Loop. I will say no more about it, because the dignified man who is interviewed says it all. If you’ve enjoyed anything I’ve written before today, I have a favor to ask of you:
Watch and listen to Ronald Davis:
Very timely post for me this week. On Facebook, I was disgusted by a young woman’s comments on how repellent homeless people are to her. The lack of compassion for a fellow human being was astounding, even when I pointed out the severe mental illness, situational homeless, etc. I posted Mr. Davis’ video on the Facebook stream on which she commented. Doubt she will get it. She considers homeless people a “liberal issue.”
Thanks, Harry. I think all we can do is raise the issue and do what we can to remedy it, either directly or in the form of political action. It is not a fun thing to talk or think about. Looking away from trouble is a long standing psychological defense that has also helped us survive. Still, as you know, sometimes we have to fight our instincts and ask the question to ourselves, “Who am I and what is my responsibility to my fellow man?”
Oh hey, thanks for the plug! And for the insight–I was speculating about his location. I think it’s his stereotype-shattering lucidity that makes this ever more heartbreaking. Gosh, if human suffering is a ‘liberal issue,’ it sure fortifies some of my political choices.
You are welcome. I would say to you what I said to Harry. Compassion seems in short supply today. Stereotyping and victim-blaming helps us to sleep at night, believing that “It won’t happen to me.” Unfortunately, for too many, it has happened. And thanks for your beautifully written essays. I’m rooting for you, too.
Thanks for raising this issue, Dr. Stein. We’ve reached the point in some cities where the homeless are being criminalized.
As you mention in your comment above, It’s much easier to blame the homeless for their plight. The marketplace is uncertain, insecure, and unforgiving. Far too many of us live on the brink of disaster.
Agreed. Thanks very much for your comment, Rosaliene.