When the man carrying a sign walked by my car at the intersection of I-95 and Broward Boulevard, I did not thank my lucky stars that I wasn’t him.
Instead, I wondered: How did he get this way?
Certainly, I figured, he’s had some bad breaks. Even more certainly, I was sure, he put himself where he stood, begging, with a sign that reads:
“War Vet. Homeless. Anything Helps.”
I didn’t ask his name. To give him a face, let’s call him Richard.
Richard, a young man with empty eyes, too young to be homeless, has left himself adrift with nothing to fall back on.
In the same way we are leaving ourselves adrift.
With our addictions to old habits.
The worst of which is an addiction to fossil fuels.
Heating up the planet.
Swelling the oceans.
Killing plants and animals.
Causing droughts and disease.
2020 was the hottest year recorded in human history.
Where are the headlines screaming: We Can’t Keep Doing This!
Where are the leaders imploring us to come up with solutions.
“We’re working on it,” they say.
“It’s a hoax,” some of them say. “What’s good for business is good for us.”
Idiocy. Short-sightedness. Laziness.
We are lagging too far behind.
At the rate we are going, we will soon be homeless.
Just like Richard.
Then, we will wonder:
How did we get this way?
2 replies on “The Homeless Man”
Did you help poor ol’ Richard with a couple of dollars? (Tough to do in times of COVID.) So many war vets come home scrambled. Too many put a bullet to their brain. Some wander about trying to find meaning and balance in their world now changed forever.
When I returned from two plane rides over and two plane rides back from Vietnam my fellow college grad friends found me different. No longer the party boy – freewheeling. Changed. No longer wanting to participate in a society I was having trouble relating to.
Fortunately for this beggar, I was shown kindness and care from a 14 year old guru and others not too dissimilar to me that gave me again a sense of family, friendship, focus, purpose. Helped me to re-tool and develop a skill set that ushered me willing into a world I had wanted to run away from. Making it feasible for a wonderful love-filled marriage, children, grandchildren, a successful accounting career, a home of 35 years and an ability to give back to those less fortunate, and give I do.
The next time you see a damaged vet, if you can’t lend a hand, please give thoughts of loving kindness and the hope their living will find soon a turn for betterment. It is possible.
Thanks for your comments, Mike.
Unfortunately, giving money to homeless street people turns out to be enabling behavior. My few bucks won’t help them. The few dollars only perpetuates their lifestyle/condition. They need counseling and the will to rise up from their ashes. Life ain’t always fair. When there is a will there will always be a way. I’ve seen it work many times in my life. It can work for anyone.