“Put Yourself In My Place:
Practicing Human Kindness”
I’m sitting here, in the middle of a nor’easter snow storm, and I’m comfortably snuggled up with a cup of hot piping Joe and my electric blanket. I’ve got my fuzzy cat on one side, my laptop on the other. What’s more cozy than this? It’s easy to hunker down in a lovely pre-Christmas storm and be merry at the prospect of getting in some solid relaxation time. It’s important, however, that we remember the many people who don’t have such comforts.
What about all of those poor souls without a home to snuggle in? What about those poor souls who don’t have enough to eat? What becomes of them during these so-called cozy Christmas storms? Where do they go? Sure, some cities have soup kitchens and shelters, which I’m sure aren’t so cozy and picture perfect, but at least they provide some shelter and sustenance. Many places don’t even offer this to the luckless and the weary.
CBC reports that 200,000 Canadians are homeless every year (“30,000 Homeless Every Night”). The United States homeless rate is more than triple that at 630,000 American homeless every year according to The Guardian (“US Homeless Rates Expected to Rise As Spending Cuts Deepen”). Yet most Canadians and Americans don’t talk about this horrendous state. The homeless and the hungry become invisible. There are countless charities to feed the homeless and offer shelter for those abroad but when is the last time you saw one to help your local community? The answer to that is probably never because then we would have to admit that we have a problem and people don’t like to have problems in their own backyards.
So what can we do to change this? There are countless things you can do to help. First, admit that there is a problem and that there is something you can do. You can donate items or money to your local shelters, The Red Cross, Salvation Army, or other charitable organizations. Most cities or towns have specific well known areas that the homeless may frequent such as certain parks or outside of coffee houses. I like to make fairly non-perishable meals, like a PB & J sandwich and some oranges or something, put them into a paper bag and write “free” or “lunch”, etc, and I then leave it at these spots. It’s very likely that someone will stumble across it and have at least a few bites to eat. If you’re eating out somewhere and you have left-overs, why not leave these, too? Or you may just walk past someone who is down on his/her luck and they’d probably appreciate the meal. I’ve even given a “one free coffee” card to a fellow because I figured a hot drink on a chilly night was better than nothing.
A good friend of mine was homeless for a number of years and I remember him telling me about that period of his life. He said one of the most difficult things was the way people pretended that they did not see you, as if you really were invisible. He said that he hated when people pretended he was “just part of the wall”. So, even if you can’t afford to donate anything, the least you can do is smile and say hello just to let them know that you view them as fellow people, not as “problems”.
“30,000 Canadians Are Homeless Every Night”. CBC. CBC.ca. 19 June 2013. Web.
“US Homeless Numbers Expected to Rise As Spending Cuts Deepen”. The Guardian. Guardian.com. 9 April 2013. Web.
Pearse, Gregory. “Homeless: I am Human” Drawing. Cinemaseekers.com/homeless. Web.