i’ve taken homeless people grocery shopping in new york city, but i’ve never actually sat and had a meal and conversation. in fact, there’s a part of me that wants to turn my head and pretend i don’t see them. if i don’t see them, then i don’t have to feel guilty for not helping.
i grew up in an immigrant family with parents who would tell me, ‘this is america. if you work hard, you can make it. anyone can make it!’
the truth is there are homeless people who have no one to turn to. i would assume they haven’t tried getting a job. that they’re lazy. i would lump homeless people into a pool of people who just want to rely on others, and don’t want to work hard.
when i would see someone begging on the streets, i would judge them and say to myself, ‘if they worked hard, they could make it. it’s their own fault that they don’t have a place to go.’ i would turn and walk away. yet, i would never turn my back on a lost and homeless dog. in fact, i’ve devoted hours and even weeks to rescue a dog without tags.
now that i know depression and addiction, i have a completely different understanding of the homeless situation. everyone has a story.
when i see someone on the streets now, i see that person as an individual with a troubled life. i have compassion for him. maybe one day, i’ll make the time to take him to lunch and listen to his story. maybe one day, i’ll choose to connect.