Friday, January 2, 2009

The Homeless Man

We both see the same man
He's homeless and pulls a cart
Holding his meager possessions.
His gray hair is long and tangled
His face is seamed and dark
From outdoor living
There are holes in his dirty jacket
His shoes are worn and scuffed
One of them has no laces.

When he is gone:
You say, "What a mess he is!"
I say, "I wonder where he can go
To get clean."
You say, "He looks like a drinker or druggie to me."
I say, "I wonder where he goes to the bathroom."
You say, "I wouldn't blame anyone
For wanting to keep him out. Didn't you see?
One of his shoes didn't even have laces."
I say, "I wish I could help him."
You say, "Well, you really are a do-gooder!"
I say, "No, but I would be if I could."
You say, "You can't help people like that.
If you gave him money, he'd just drink it up.
Or buy drugs."
I say, "You don't have to be a drinker or a druggie
To fall out of the system.
You just have to lose your job
Have a serious illness in the family
Or lose your house--anything."
You say, "Plenty of people have troubles,
But they don't end up bums--
You're crazy, too sentimental."
I say ,"But somehow, we should be able to help.
In the end, people are responsible for each other."
You say, "Responsible! People make their own choices.
He got himself into the mess he's in."
I say, "Maybe, but still, he needs help."

You go on your way
Irritated by my "foolishness."

We saw the same man, and yet we didn't.
You saw his faults, I saw his need.
You may be intelligent and practical
I may be foolish or crazy, as you say.
But something in me feels a connection
Between him and me.
We live different lives
Have different thoughts
I know nothing about him
Or how he got where he is

But beneath all that
Beyond our human personalities
There is something within us
That is the same
Something that is the core of life

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