Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Moment of Conscience

He’s there again. The dirty, unkempt gray hair, stained and tattered clothes and holding that damn sign. A sidewalk tramp exposing the darker side of life and I feel him tearing at my carefully cocooned world. An inexplicable anger wells up inside me and I want to shout, lazy drunk, con-artist, fraud. I stare resolutely ahead as he approaches the car. He has such a hopeful expression as he limps up to the window. Feeling very uncomfortable, I ignore him and silently scream at the traffic light to turn green. Finally it changes and in the rear view mirror I see a look of despair cross his face. Driving towards home I become increasingly annoyed as I think of the old man. Surely he could get some kind of a job or Government assistance. A faint thought worms its way into my mind. Maybe he doesn't have any where to go. I push the unsettling notion aside as I realize they have shelters or something for these people. Shaking off my annoyance, I pull into my neighborhood and gaze at the pristine homes and manicured lawns and I let the image of shabby and broken man slip from my mind as if he never existed.

copyright Sherry Obsheatz


paisley said...

in order to receive public assistance,, he has to have a verifiable mailing address,, or an active bank account into which the funds can be deposited.. he must also meet at all the scheduled times,, and bring in all the correct documentation at the appointed times.. a lot of the homeless have no way of collecting the documentation necessary to prove that they have need, and or making it to scheduled appointments... being homeless dirty and hungry,, is not enough,, one must be able to provide proof....

June said...

Oh yeah, you said what we all...or at least a lot of us...think and feel and do when faced with these situations...which is often in south Florida! I don't like any of the street people: beggars, newspaper hawkers, or charity donation collectors. In addition to being dangerous, I just don't like people approaching me and basically making me feel compelled to give. I do better giving at grocery stores.

Cynthia said...


Ralph Murre said...

Nice work. The long-ago (and great) movie "Year of Living Dangerously" made the point that no one of us can solve the problem of hunger, but most any one of us can help solve the problem of one person's hunger. And I am not doing that. Thanks for the reminder.

Jennifer Boire said...

I love the Leonard cohen you have playing - what a great idea. Beautiful blog you have created.
was clicking around the web blog universe and happened upon yours, through REbecca's, through Bella's,
can't remember,
jenn aka musemother

Id it is said...

A shameful reality that shows up unexpectedly as we turn a corner; a reality that we've developed an apathy toward even after the Vietnams and Iraqs that we've lived through! Yet we call ourselves an evolved society of a developed nation.

I recently read that a mild dose of Prozac is being prescribed as a mandatory medication to all US soldiers serving outside the country. This might lessen the poor veteran's torture who'll now carry around this false sense of well being for the rest of his life thanks to Prozac! To what extents we can go for our veterans!!!

Nathan said...

The scene you describe happens so often and we all have a moral obligation to help each other. But we should also remember that there is a larger system at work that creates the classes, that creates a situation in which people live so far from each other economically. It's important to work to change that system.

rebecca said...

and they've become part of our architectural landscape, defacing our lives like some unwanted graffiti that we no longer see...and, yet, there but for the Grace of God we go. the only difference that separates them from us is that stroke of bad luck they have been dealt. we can all very easily find ourselves in a similar situation.

I wrote a piece on the homeless back in April on the trials and tribulations they must go through when faced with people who no longer have a sense of compassion. a sad testament to who we are. we need to slit open our sympathetic veins and see them once again for what they truly are: just an unfortunate version of ourselves.

this was very well written white rose and it really hit home.