My Heart has become Homeless


I watch the homeless man watch the woman

His face half covered, like a vicious mockery of a masquerade mask,

by the greasy stained hood of the once maroon sweatshirt.

The lone eye peaking out, staring at the serrated and mechanical run

of the 40 year old woman, and her dog.

I can read his thoughts:

she eats so much food she has to run, she’s wearing workout clothes because she has workout clothes, she has a dog that she can take care of, that dog eats better than i do.

I hate the woman too, as I ride by on my Giant mountain bike.

without another thought for the homeless man on the bus bench

I’m blessed to be able to ride my bike over lunch for exercise.  Today over lunch I passed a man who appeared to be living on the streets.  This reminded of when I was in grade school and my folks took me into the city for a parade.  While driving through the city streets looking for a place to park, I saw my first homeless person, digging through the garbage, looking for food.  I remember crying, and my parents asking me what was wrong.  After I told them, they kept driving.  Today, after I saw the man I thought living on the streets, I kept riding.

For a portion of my life I’ve felt like I’ve had a heart for the homeless.  So much so that sometimes I would even tell my wife that I was going to help the homeless.  Or told myself that I had dreams of starting a homeless shelter.  I used to feel pangs of guilt and regret when I’d pass a someone on the entrance to the highway, asking for handouts.  I used to.

Somewhere along the way, I started to give up.  I made excuses.  I stopped making eye contact with them on the side of the road, and I generally stopped caring.  I wouldn’t even tell myself that I wanted to help.  I just didn’t.  I don’t know where I went wrong.  I tried all sorts of ways to justify it, or explain it away, or tell myself I’ll care about the homeless when I’m older and don’t have so many family responsibilities.  But the truth is, I lost my way, if I ever had it. Has anyone who is fortunate enough to have a blog or read a blog figured it out?  Is there a way to make caring for the homeless in a tangible way while supporting a family and pretending that writing is more important that helping those who have nothing?  Or have any of you been able to successfully tell yourself that it doesn’t matter?  There’s no social change embedded in this post.  There is only sad self reflection, and guilt.

d. 2. oban

Update – Amazing how this works.  Ran across this article this morning.  ‘The Science of Evil’.  Simon Baron-Cohen calls this empathy erosion, where humans are turned into objects