February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day.
Kindness can change the world, I personally believe this. Have you ever helped someone, a complete stranger, with no benefit to yourself? You don't have to be saving lives or sacrifice a piece of yourself to do so.
With Feb 17th being random acts of kindness day we'd like to raise awareness of it. We are a homeless charity and our service users, many of them being folks who have not experienced very much kindness in their lives are our very reason for existing. I've been homeless, some of the staff and volunteers here have been. One of the worst facets of homelessness, from my perspective at least, was the complete and utter sense of separation from society, from one's tribe.
Humans are social animals, we're not supposed to be alone. I've had several friendly disagreements at our organisation as to what is the most effective way to help the homeless population. Our managers and bosses mostly believe that buying homeless folk a sandwich or donating to our charity was the best way, and it is in the main.
However in this author's own personal opinion there was this almost tacit agreement with the rest of society that "if you give them money they will just spend it on alcohol or drugs". As a former homeless person my stock response was always this, "why not? you do".
Sitting outside, cold and sad with 4 breakfast sandwiches and three cold lattes is of no use to anyone. We treat these poor traumatised and broken individuals as we would treat anyone else, we hold them to OUR standards, we don't treat them as an individual, we expect them to behave as we do. They won't, they may never, I know I still dont and I've had a home and life for years now.
Please believe me when I tell you this, no matter your previous life, how well you were reared or your level of education. After a few weeks of the loneliest existence imaginable I'd challenge you to not want to chase something to blot out the intolerable cruelty and isolation of your current reality. People sometimes say hi and yes, sometimes people buy food and drinks, but not often do we ever try and sit with those people, on their level and literally sitting beside them, even for the briefest of moments.
We are equal in worth and stature to any of those unlucky hurting and discarded individuals we look at everywhere, we look but we often fail to see, in their eyes is a peer deserving of our compassion, support but mainly respect. Next time you see one of these people, one of the lost members of OUR tribe, if you have a spare minute, maybe sit and chat for even a brief minute, maybe ask them, one adult to another, what can I get YOU?
- Chris (@wordsfromtheshed)