Dear homeless people,
I see you. In a world where you are invisible, please know that I see you. I understand that you are another person, trying to survive another day, just as we all are. You may not own much, but you have hope. You have hope that people will give you their spare change out of pure generosity. You still believe in the goodness of humanity, and in people, which is more than I can say for most of us. The rest of us walk with our heads down, rushing from one place to another, trying to block out all the bad in the world, while forgetting that as we do, we also block out the good.
You sit on the sidewalk, head high, cup outstretched, becoming all the more hopeful with each coin that drops into your cup. With each cent, you are reassured that there are good people in the world. I may walk past you in a hurry, but I think about you as I do. I think about you as I put money into the transit box instead of walking, I think about you as I scramble for change for an overpriced coffee and I think about you as I get into bed at night wishing my bed was more comfortable.
People may scoff and think that they are better than you but they are wrong, because you are among the wisest of people. I do not even know you, and yet, you have taught me life’s most valuable lessons. Because of you, I have learned to appreciate what I have, and give when I can to those who have less. Because of you, I have realized that there is more to life than money and clothes. I may be more educated, but you are more knowledgeable.
You are stronger than me, because you must rely on the rest of the world in order to meet life’s most basic needs. We are overwhelmed by the bad in the world, overloaded with statistics and biases and devastation. You are liberated in your ignorance, and empowered by your hopefulness. I lie, and tell you that I have no change, and you give me a grin and tell me to have a nice day. The grin that breaks my heart. I am no better than you because I have a home, I am no better than you because I possess more. It seems at times that you are better than me, because you are resilient, brave and despite seeming broken, you smile.
I give when I have, and when I am changeless I will still give. I will give you a smile, to let you know that I care, I will give you half of my sandwich so you will not go hungry, I will give you well wishes, that you may survive another day, and most importantly, I will give you my utmost respect, for doing what most of us could not. I think this is what is most forgotten when we look at you, we forget that you are among the bravest of men.
You wish people a good day, when they have done nothing to help yours and you stand strong, despite being told that you are less because you have less. I want you to know that I see you. I see the strength in you, and I only wish one day, I too will be able to have the same strength that you do. Thank you for these life lessons and thank you for showing me that the most humbling view is the one from the sidewalk.