People of the Street.

Just imagine …..

Just imagine that, because you feel the experience would be valuable to you, you decide to spend a night on the streets in your town. To so many people, it would be a crazy idea … but what if you really wanted to know what others are experiencing  on a daily basis?

The following verses are from “The Project”, which is part of a collection of verses in a book “Just Thinking”. Click on book cover in right column (may have to scroll) for more information.

I sit tonight on the pavement,
People watching… just to see
Who says “Hello”?
Who just walks by?
Who actually acknowledges me?

But I don’t seem to exist
In so many passing eyes.
Am I an embarrassment?
Do I make them feel uncomfortable?
Perhaps I am simply despised?

They are colder than the air
Which surrounds me this night.
For a caring and humane society,
At least as I understand it,
That’s really not right.

We’ve probably all done it at some point in our lives. We have side stepped somebody on the street; may have thought derogatory thoughts about them; wondered why they don’t get a job like the rest of us; wondered whether “that girl” was a sex trade worker; turned away from them rather than risk eye contact. In general, we have all probably disapproved as they do not fit “our standard”.

They’re wrapped up in their lives.
Fashionable; conforming; neat.
They just don’t see…
People like me…
People who live on the street.

Sadly, that tends to be the state of our society. We are so controlled by commerce, which suggests that either we “play the game” or be considered something less than normal. We struggle to buy that nice house; we want peer approval so must stay in fashion; If we don’t whiten our teeth, will we ever smile again?  So much advertising pushes the message that unless you buy/use their product, then clearly something is wrong with you. This comes often from comments like “This must be in everybody’s bathroom” … “Everybody in our survey gave us a 5 star rating” … “Do you want to be the only one without …….”  “Surely you can afford a few pennies a week?” Many companies have a psychologist on their sales team, so they know how to convince you that their product is invaluable, and that your life is incomplete without it.

When was the last time you heard that it would be humane to just acknowledge a street person? When was the last time you affirmed that a street person was, in fact, a person?

I am lucky and I know it.
I do have a home.
I do have food and friends,
And I can leave here whenever I choose.
Unlike many… l am not alone.

To live on the streets
Is in nobody’s dreams.
There are reasons behind such a move.
Reasons we may not understand but
Is life ever what it seems?

It is such a basic fact that nobody has gone through school with the dream  of living on the street! If we can accept that statement, then we must acknowledge that those people must have experienced something which put them on the street.

Say “Hello!” to the next person you see,
Sitting in their sidewalk home.
Recognize that reasons they must surely have,
To live in such a way.
Being ignored… and alone.

It would be pure fantasy to believe that we can take all those people and reintegrate them back into our society, but is it such a stretch of our imagination to actually acknowledge that they exist.  Perhaps even smile at them? Perhaps just say “Hi”, or even  go and get them a coffee?

And when you say farewell.
When you leave and go to your home.
Remember those people
Who… for whatever reasons,
Will be spending another night on the streets… cold and alone.

Just thinking.

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