"One approximation of the annual number of homeless in America is from a study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, which estimates between 2.3 and 3.5 million people experience homelessness." ("Facts and Figures: The Homeless PBS.org)
Yes, we are our brother's keeper. We are morally responsible for acknowledging and doing something about the suffering of those who, for whatever reason, are drowning right around us. Sometimes it is enough to simply stop and have a conversation. To say, "Hello. Have a good day." To acknowledge that the individual who is begging for your money and/or your attention could just as easily be you or someone you love. So, to all who read these words, Be blessed, and remember, today you might be on top of the world. Tomorrow the world might be on top of you.
To The Homeless Guy On The Side Of The Road
I try not to make eye contact
with you because if our eyes were
to meet, I might actually see inside
your soul. And the thought of being
that close to the essence of you scares
me, so each and every time I turn away
or I simply focus on the words you’ve
written on your sign.
Before, your sign said,
“Help! I’m homeless,” and before that “I’m hungry. Can you
spare some change?” Now, your sign simply says “God Bless.”
You ask for nothing—you simply shuffle around in some
bizarre dance, arms flapping like a strangled bird.
Each day you and your sign haunt me. I
worry that if I see your eyes, if I really look into them
I will find that you are no con man, no flim flam artist
but a man whose down on his luck and has no greater
wish than to make me smile and send God’s blessings
my way—and for that, you neither want nor desire for
me to pay.
The other reason I never meet your eyes is because I don’t
want to see that you need more from me
than some nickels and dimes. I’m worried that
to see your soul I’ll see a reflection of the souls of my dad,
my uncles, my brothers or my cousins who
by fates chance never ended up
on the side of the road hoping God or some kind lady
would offer them a look—a glance.
So I don’t look at you because I don’t have
time to be my brother’s keeper. Not today. I’ve got schedules
to keep and deadlines to meet and for me to take on
your problems on top of my own
is way too much.
So I look away.
I look away.
© Angela Jackson-Brown
Read more by Angela Jackon-Brown: Drinking From A Bitter Cup