Recently, two of my blogging friends 'A Homeless Man Dies, Alone And Discarded.' by 'askcherlock' and
'Homeless Man Dies As People Look And Walk By.', by 'Kelly', posted up and reflected upon the saddening, disturbing plight of a homeless man; captured on video.
Now that video is demonstration of the blight that plagues some sections of humanity. The indifference, the not wanting to get involved mentality of an apathetic Society.
Perhaps those passing by the poor homeless soul in that video
would have ignored the fate of anyone. They may have walked by a crying child; they may have walked by a well-dressed man bleeding in the gutter. They might have ignored the pleas of a battered and bruised woman; the victim of domestic violence.
Yet I do wonder if, based on appearance, the homeless man was left in despair. Considered by those who too easily pass judgement; to be a pitiful waste and not worth bothering with. I just don't know.
One of the most profound times in my life was when I worked with the homeless and the 'rough sleepers' in the city of Stoke-on-Trent. The people I worked with did not fit the convenient stereotypes. There was the educated, articulate man who had lost everything through a bitter divorce. Everything except his dignity. There was the young father with his daughter who called home a cardboard box. Then there were the teenagers. Frightened, homeless kids shunned by their families. I provided them with warm drinks and kind conversation. You could see in their eyes how much such gestures meant.
Of course, I witnessed the drug-fuelled and drunken behaviour. The sad, the desperate, the lonely, trying to find comfort from a hostile environment. Indeed, the combination of drugs and the relentless fear of not knowing what was happening to their lives; is a prime factor in the onslaught of mental illness. A negative reality can have deep and lasting effects on the mental health well being of those who have found their life turned upside down.
Those times working with the homeless and the rough sleepers has provided a powerful and inspirational impact on me. I know you cannot pass judgement on others based on preconceived notions and misconceptions. I may see a brother or sister in need and I will not pass them by. I see people, through circumstances beyond their control, lying cold, tired, hungry and alone in darkened shop doorways. I see the sadness in their eyes. I note the looks of disgust from those who are more than willing to stigmatise.
Circumstances so overwhelming and despairing can happen to any of us. This isn't just being humane for the homeless. This is being humane to all humanity. So imagine if you were that lost soul in a darkened shop doorway; you may well experience the human disease of apathy. I hope not.