Don't Feed the Homeless
Monday, July 10, 2006

Sunday was a beautiful summers day. Kendell and I packed up and headed out to the beach for a day free of worries. The sun was glinting off our sunglasses and the music set to a decibel guaranteed to piss off a few elderly.

Pulling up to a light I noticed the transient in his usual spot. I've seen him here often. Sitting in his wheelchair, one empty pant leg seemingly taunted by the other full robust leg. His unshaven face is framed by a baseball cap that seems to have weathered many a cold Washington morning. I see him often, yet I don't, not really. He is a part of the landscape, no more or less then the bus stop he sits near.

I'm not sure when my heart steeled against people like this lonely man on the corner. Was it too many, "Sixty Minutes Investigates"? Was it when I started seeing them every day begging down town? Or was it when I realized I couldn't help the world, that I was barely helping my own little family make it, so I shut them away to avoid the hurt.

Kendell's heart is that of most young children. Open, vulnerable, and sweet. He's yet without my cynicism and jaundiced eye. He sees things in black and white and it makes his world very simple.

We pulled next to this man and my head groaned with our proximity, while Kendell rejoiced at his chance to say hello; which he did in his young man/boy voice. The man's answering hello was lit with a smile that relayed his pleasure at actually being seen. Kendell didn't see the chair, or the sign asking for money, he just saw the man.

Behind him this day was a new addition. There stood a forty something white man. His head sheltered from the sweltering heat by a broad brimmed hat, designer sunglasses perched on his nose, and a name brand tshirt designed to be "casual" covered a well fed physique. Once I got over the Bermuda shorts and socks pulled to his knees, I realized he carried a sign. I didn't want to stare but read it as we pulled away. It read, "Help make my neighborhood safe, don't feed the homeless".

Here was a man that made enough money to keep himself clothed in ridiculous, but name brand clothing, protesting a man in thrift store apparel, obviously handicapped, for a few lousy dollars.

Yes, he might take that money and go buy booze, yes he might take it and buy drugs, or yes, he might take it home to help feed a family for one more meal, but I don't believe this man is going to be crawling in your bedroom window.

That man and his sign enraged me, it made my heart ache, and it made me listen. Listen to my heart, listen to my son. I heard the kindness that had not been leaked out of Kendell by society. I heard the plea in one man's eyes, I heard the ignorance behind the sign, and I listened.

I believe in signs, I believe that they are put there to guide us; this sign was meant for me. I find it enjoyably ironic that the messenger would be less then pleased with the message he managed to send me.

Thank you Lord, for lessons well learned.

Blogger Gypsy had this to say:

Whenever I leave my father's office downtown and see the 2 or 3 homeless people who congregate around the empty building next door, I catch myself being annoyed. Sympathetic and handing out what I have, but annoyed.

But to stand out there like that and be so intolerant and heartless? *shakes head*

12:09 PM, July 10, 2006 

Blogger RennyBA had this to say:

Hello, Michele sent me - you know:-) and I say hello from Norway and that you really have a nice blog so I will come back!

1:38 PM, July 10, 2006 

Blogger Barbara had this to say:

KaraMia - Very nice post. I have a question, what do you do differently since seeing the sign?

Thanks for visiting my blog.

7:13 PM, July 10, 2006 

Blogger mlah had this to say:

sometimes i offer to buy yhem lunch. but i don't give them money anymore.


8:10 PM, July 10, 2006 

Blogger ƒåυνέ had this to say:

I always give money, when I can afford too. I figure, they may not do the right thing with it; but that doesn't negate my responsibility to do the right thing.

4:36 AM, July 11, 2006 

Blogger Tickneen had this to say:

Awesome post dude!

8:19 AM, July 11, 2006 

Anonymous Terri had this to say:

Hi from Michele's.
What a GREAT post! So well said and so very true. I love the innocence of children....they have a way of making us adults pay attention and listen to the important things in life. You've got a great son there.

9:39 AM, July 11, 2006 

Blogger Shephard had this to say:

Thanks for visiting me today!

I so agree with you on this.
I give, and whatever it is they do with the money is speeding them toward whatever it is they need to learn in life. I don't pass judgments on what they do with the money I give them.

The man with the sign... he'll eventually be on the receiving end of such uncompassionate choices. What goes around certainly comes back around.

Great blog!

2:37 PM, July 12, 2006 

Blogger Carmi had this to say:

Cruelty takes many forms. Thankfully, your son's judgment-less greeting more than countered the soulless soul's heartless form of protest.

The heart of a child is a wondrous thing. You've raised him well.

7:13 PM, July 14, 2006 

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