Yesterday I was riding with a friend on a well trafficked street. There was a homeless man standing on the traffic divider with a sign that said "I'm hungry...please help". Car after car drove by, including the one I was in.
My first thought when I saw him was that he probably had an alcoholism or addiction problem and was trying to get money to fuel his addiction. I also thought that he probably had a terrible life as he looked miserable and desperate, and when you are lost in addiction like that you usually are miserable. I didn't want to give him money, but doing nothing and continuing to drive and talk with my friend seemed horrible. It was almost as though we were pretending to not see him. All of the hundreds of other people driving by seemed to do the same thing. In a reasonable world, wouldn't we gather around that person and say, hey it looks like your life isn't working...you need some help. lets get you some help.
Every time I see this it blows me away that I live in a world where one of us can stand in public view literally holding a sign that says Help me, I'm in trouble here and my life is not working, and in our society it is the norm to ignore this. That says something to me about the world I live in, something that really disturbs me.
There have been before and will be again cultures where this is unheard of. I don't know how the majority of us can live with this. I asked my friend, who is a good, kind spiritual person involved in much humanitarian work, how long it affects him when he sees something like that. He said not very long. I believe he is part of the majority. I also believe that there has to be a better way and this is a symptom of a bigger picture....why this world has become such a hard place to live in.
Can I save every single homeless person out there? no, of course not. Its just the idea of how immune we have become to it that really shakes me. This is not ok. No matter how we rationalize it, something is very wrong here. Just something to think about.