In the spirit of Christmas, I have been buying bread to give to this homeless guy after work. I bought a pack of Christmas napkins to give with the bread. Today I bought him a pizza bread, because I felt like giving him something nicer as I have been making my own coffee and tea lately; and consequently, spent less money on coffee these days.
I like this guy because he always works so hard, but he never expects and even assumes that most people will not give him any money – yet he never gave up trying. It is against my principle to give anyone money, because I do not want to have subconsciously become part of any of their dependencies. That is why I give him food – the basic necessity needed to survive, and in this way I know that he will not use my money on anything that I did not intend for it to be spend on. So I make the effort to go to the supermarket, to personally pick something for him, and to queue up to pay before giving it to him in person with the Christmas napkin around dinner time.
Today, I did not see him at his usual spot. It was probably too cold. I walked around the other spots, but there were other people, who already had food. Some even seemed to enjoy their street life by dancing over loud music, and eating warm food. I didn’t want to give my pizza bread to any of them. Then I saw this young man. He has always annoyed me because in my opinion, young people are supposed to work. You are not supposed to sit there looking depressed and living on the charity of others if you have a healthy body to do any kind of work you have to make a living for yourself. But today he was the only one sitting there looking sad and without food, and I pass by him almost every day during my transfer. So I gave him the pizza bread that was packed in a bag, with the snow flower napkin around it. He was looking at the floor, until he saw the bread in front of him, and instantly looked up surprised and said “thank you very much” – with gratitude in his voice that surprised me in return.
His reaction had surprised me, because it helped me see that I have been judging him with my conditioned expectations. I have always believed that children go to school so we can work on something of our choosing when we grow up. It is our duty to ourselves and how we contribute to the society we live in. But I do not know his story, and I do not know whether he had the chance to exercise his right to education as a child; his right to work – or to seek work with equal opportunities as a grown up; I only know that he is not enjoying his right to a standard of living, with food and housing. I do not know if it is because he is not enjoying his rights as a member of the society, or if there are other reasons that made it hard for him to be considered as “part of the system.”
I felt sad. Not because I may have misjudged him previously, but because of the lack of prospects for this young person. I smiled at him in natural sincerity as a response to him, but I had to hold my tears on my way home. This is not how young people should be living. Something must be done.
How to help these homeless people, these young people outside of “the social system” by giving them the ability to work and teaching them how to sustain themselves independently from the charity of others? I am going to think about this, and I hope you will be part of this greater project.
Together we can make this world a place we believe in.