Today has a specially cold wind blowing and while my late lunch cooked I went downstairs to get some sunlight and get warmed up.
There had been a few months since I stopped buying bread.
I replaced them by whole wheat toasts, but this morning I decided to get some brown bread home, along with some turkey breast slices and cheese, to vary a bit.
Few minutes after I put the chair under sunlight one of my neighbors came up and we started talking.
As we were talking a man appeared at the entrance saying “Food, food. I want food.”
He was obviously homeless and didn’t have any bad smell but his feet and hands looked very dirty.
He appeared to be in his sixties. Very skinny and weak. With his trembling body he asked for food.
My neighbor said “Only in the restaurant. I don’t have any now.”
It was probably true because he lives alone like me and orders food most of the time.
Then the man started asking for coffee: “Coffee, I want coffee.”
I said: “I don’t have any food prepared but I can make you a sandwich and coffee. Wait here, please.”
As I came upstairs I went to the window to check if he was waiting and shouted “Sir, hang on there, please.”
I quickly made a cup of coffee and a sandwich, which would not be possible yesterday when I wouldn’t have anything to offer but some fruits.
I was glad I could give him that at least but my heart broke as I delivered it to his hands. I also gave him a little money.
I asked him how long he’s been living on the streets. He said “20 years.” I said goodbye and came back to my apartment to check on my lunch cooking.
It reminded me of one episode of that NatGeo serie, the one that showed tribesmen from Tanna [Pacific] staying with families in big cities in UK and US.
In that episode they went out with the family and saw many homeless people.
It was an ackward and embarassing moment because one of the tribesmen said “How do you leave them like that, homeless and hungry on the streets? In Tanna if someone doesn’t have where to live we help and build a house for them.” There was an uncomfortable silence and the host tried to explain it to the tribesman who asked.
Of course in their primitive way of living it’s easier to provide for someone in need what is necessary to live.
But why, how and when the so called civilization lost the ability to promptly help someone in need?
When did it become so difficult to do? Probably when money started being used.
We can’t just bring somebody home to live with us. It’s not safe. Everybody knows that.
But I see it’s more than that. I saw other people in the building on the other side of the street. Nobody made a move to help the man.
If at least we all could give the possible help at the moment we find someone like that it would help already.
Most of people don’t even care anymore and prefer not to think about it. It’s probably uncomfortable for them.
I know many others donate regularly to NGOs and directly to the people they find in need.
I see a lack of compassion in general, not only toward those homeless but even with people we know.
Compassion is what good actions are made of.
It’s necessary to cultivate it so it will give us better ideas of how to really help.
I strongly believe that no matter how difficult one’s situation might be, it’s always possible to improve it with the right mindset.
Not everybody has that strength to do it, specially the ones in so much need, so true generosity and compassion are always welcome, but very hard to find nowadays.
Remember anything counts. Anything possible to do at the moment. Even if you have to interrupt your sunbath for a few minutes.