Sometimes it’s hard to remember that homeless man begging you for spare change is a person. How many times have you walked down High Street and avoided making eye contact with everyone who passes by? How often do you walk faster when you pass a homeless person? Where did we learn that the appropriate response to suffering is apathy?
I’m just as guilty as everyone else. I recognize that, as students, we’re not exactly financially stable. It’s hard to give what little money we do have to others.
But I’m not advocating that we give the homeless money.
I’ve made it a habit to bring food or take someone out to dinner once a month. If someone asks me for money for food, I offer him a meal. If he accepts, I let him choose the place and treat him to dinner.
Over the past few months, I’ve learned that sometimes what the homeless are really looking for is someone who will listen. I’ve learned that these people aren’t that different from you or me. They have families and friends. Their lives have highs and lows. They have dreams.
Most of all, they want someone to talk to.
I’ve found that often what separates me from the homeless is a broken dream. Many had steady jobs. Many had college educations. Every time I sit down with someone, I realize that I could be looking at my future. If were on the streets, I would want to be heard. I wouldn’t want my humanity stripped from me based on my socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, that’s what has happened to the homeless.
Our generation wants to change the world and we have dreams reaching out to every corner of the globe. This university talks about “paying it forward.” If you’re going to start somewhere, I suggest the streets of Columbus. I promise it’s worth sacrificing your Friday night pizza. There’s so much to learn out there – not only about others, but also about yourself.