Compassionate/World: Them: Yes ___ No ___
Today in the city I saw a homeless one-legged man attempting to step up on the curb. He was unshaven, he wore filthy raggedy clothing. I’m sure he was in dire need of a good hot bath and a warm meal.
At first, I walked about five feet past him, and then rested my hot apple cider on a newspaper rack so that I could fish out a few dollars from my wallet. Think about how long that would take. It was less than a minute, or two, but of no significant length of time.
When I turned around, he was still attempting to step out of the street and onto the curb. There must have been no fewer than 50 people during the noon hour on Market Street who passed him by without a single glance, as though he didn’t exist.
I walked back to the curb and held out the money. He looked directly into my eyes and said “Thank you.” Not “thanks”, he didn’t ignore the gesture, he had the presence of the grandest of social grace and truly acknowledged my offering.
I put out my arm and without another word, he pulled himself up to the curb.
Yancy Young gave me that gift more than fifteen years ago. He made a point of going to his bank the Friday before Christmas and getting a couple of hundred dollars in ones. When I asked him why, he told me that he enjoyed spending his Christmas Eve going to the city and handing out dollar bills to the homeless.
To me, compassion is not a state of being in sympathy, but caring enough to go out of your way to make a difference.
Not more than three blocks from that very corner twenty years or more ago, my ex and I witnessed a drive by shooting. When I rushed to help the wounded women, he grabbed my arm and dragged me while telling me that I couldn’t get involved.
I know he was concerned for my safety. They could come back after realizing that she was only wounded and attempt to complete the job and possibly hit me as well. That never entered my mind.
Inevitably that was one of the irreconcilable differences in our relationship. Was it as he believed? Was I truly too naive or was he too insensitive to the world around him? Is it better to stay removed from those we don’t know personally?
Is there one right answer?