Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Helping Hands; Healing Hearts

Looking back, I do not know what has brought us to this difficult place 

But these tough times will never erase the smile from our face

Our dire circumstances will never define who we are 

We will always stick together, night or day, near or far 

We will never stop believing, brighter days are surely ahead 

I know that one day soon, we will lay our heads down once again in a warm bed 

It doesn't matter that car after car passes us by 

You will always have me to lean on, whenever you need to cry

We may not have a penny to our name, nor a single bite of food on our plate 

But I promise you that we will never stop believing, because it will never be too late 

I wrote this poem last night after being inspired by something I witnessed. I was going to the grocery store when I saw a young couple standing at the corner near one of the stop lights. They were holding up a cardboard sign that said "hungry and in need of help. Anything would be a blessing". The man was standing and holding the sign, while the woman was sitting in the grass giving their little dog some water out of a bowl. They looked so happy despite their hard times. Luckily I had a little cash in my car so I rolled down my window and gave them $5 while stopped at the light. They were so incredibly gracious.

The light turned green not 5 seconds after this happened so I moved forward along with the procession of cars behind me. As I watched them in the rear-view mirror I could not get this young couple out of my head. What had led them to this place? What had happened in their lives to bring such hard times upon them? What kind of desperation must they feel in order to publicly ask for help like this?

It also led me to other questions. Why do we as a society judge people that are in this situation? Why do we assume that they are just lazy people looking for a handout? Why do we assume that they are going to use the money on booze or drugs? What gives us the right to assume such things

Why do we not assume that they may legitimately need help? Why do we not assume that they may have legitimately fallen on hard times? Do we not all know somebody who has fallen on incredibly hard times? 

Why do we dehumanize our fellow human beings? 

I do not know who this young couple was, what road has led them here, or what road awaits them in the future. What I do know is that they are human beings with hopes, dreams, fears, and feelings just like the rest of us. I refuse to pass judgment on them when I have no idea what circumstances led them to this point.

Perhaps they just need one person to listen to them. One person to help them. One person to reach out to them. One person to believe in them. After all, if we cannot reach out to our fellow man when they have fallen on hard times, who will reach out to us...?

Do you feel that we as a society dehumanize the homeless and the downtrodden? Do you have any experiences you can share with us?

139 comments:

  1. The poem is so beautifully written. When I read she gave water to the dog, I believe she must be a very kind person :)

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  2. Yes, I do believe our society dehumanizes the homeless and blames the poor for their own poverty. I was sickened when Congress recently killed the minimum wage raise bill. Profit over people.

    Perhaps judging other people and blaming them for their misfortune is their way of assuring themselves that it can't happen to them, because they don't deserve it, that THEY are safe from whatever put THOSE people in that situation?

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  3. It's easier to dehumanize because then we don't have to feel anything for them. My step-sister published a memoir about her experience with a teenager she encountered on the streets of Manhattan:

    http://amzn.to/1sMYkY0

    I don't know if you have a tumblr but, if you do, this photographer is putting more than a face to the people he sees on the streets; he's telling their stories so that they are no long dehumanized:

    http://arnade.tumblr.com/

    He can also be found on facebook.

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  4. Hello:

    Both your poem and the situation which inspired it are very, very touching. Sadly, what you describe here is all too common and is a damning indictment of the society in which we all live where the have nots are, to a greater or lesser extent, overlooked and ignored by those who have.

    There, but for the Grace of God, go we all.

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  5. What made us so cynical that we expect the worst? Not sure what led us down that road.

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  6. One heck of a post Keith. Like you, I try to help folks in need.
    Someone asked me once:aren't you afraid they'll use that money for wine?
    What I told them is: I gave them money in a spirit of helping.
    If they took it under false pretenses, that a burden they carry.
    I choose to believe that if people are in that situation, they probably need help.

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  7. It is always easiest to be critical of other people. When we dehumanize them we can treat them like dogs. We have abandoned the concept of mental health in this country so people in need find their way to prisons and homeless camps. An interesting book you may like is "The Visible Saints", sorry, I've forgotten the author. It explains our Puritan Background and how we admire the wealthy (closer to God) and admonish the poor, those further from God. We can't shake the belief that we deserve what we get.

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  8. Beautiful poem Keith .... absolutely beautiful... .

    I had a friend in high school ... and her father admitted to all that when he was younger and lived in NYC ... he actually begged on street corners for a living -- not because he needed to, because he had an actual nice upper East side apartment -- but because it was easier to "bum" off people rather than going to get a 'real' job .... He used to tell me and his daughter stories of his 'group' of friends that did this type of thing all over NYC .... Now whether he was telling the truth, or lying to steer me and his daughter away from helping the 'homeless' -- I honestly don't know. But I have kept that in the back of my head all these years, always wondering if what I see on the side of the road is real or a scam artist. I hate that I think that way, as I will freely give to charity, or a cause, and if I see someone pushing their life in a shopping cart down the street, I will stop and buy them McDonald's .... but when I see the signs asking for money, I always have that doubt in the back of my mind .....

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  9. i think there are many reasons we dehumanize our our fellow humans...to make ourselves feel better about not helping out...to justify our own positions...to keep it from visiting us....and because we lack trust as well int he motives....as there are many that will abuse our charity....i feel you though...i have spent quite a bit of time in soup kitchens and on the streets with the homeless....

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  10. In Brazil we always have problems with homeless... They (the homeless) invade land. Of course in Brazil the separation of land wasn't fair, but it's unfair for us, because we have to work hard to pay our bills, rent apartment, government taxes and the homelles ("sem teto" or "movimento sem terra" in Brazil) want everything for free, only invading the land of others. And near where I live, on the roadside, has a group of homeless and I'm really afraid because maybe they use some drug, I don't know, I can't know!

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  11. You have a very soft heart. :) When we lived in south Florida, homeless people were everywhere. I would sometimes help too. I remember one man who had particular desperation in his eyes, I helped him even though I was a bit scared to. I'm not immune to helping. I also distinctly remember one man, maybe young 30's literally pushing his child to go to cars at red lights and ask for money. The child was maybe 8? I called the police on that guy...even if you need help, that's not the way to go about it. My heart literally ached for the child. It's hard to tell who is legit, and who is not, but I've learned if I feel compelled to help, to help. :) Have a great week!

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  12. BEAUTIFUL poem. So heartwarming.

    I think we dehumanize those less fortunate because it makes "us" feel better. Not all of us, both those who want to hate and be self-righteous.

    Great post!!!

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  13. Beautiful poem! I hate it when people just ignore the homeless people. I always try to help by giving them some money or food, especially when they have pets.I really wish society would do more to help. Have you read the book "Bob the street cat"?

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  14. I mean "A street cat named Bob". :) Sorry!

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  15. I feel exactly as you do, Keith. I actually hurts me to see people in that dreadful situation...I'm only too aware that it could just as easily be me there on the side of the street.
    Having said that though, you do have to be careful. Here in UK there are gangs who make their fortunes by posing as homeless and ripping the kind hearted Soul off.
    You can usually tell at a glance which is which...the genuine homeless people have that desperate look in their eyes. I could never pass them by...

    I am so proud of you Keith...you have a truly kind heart.:)

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  16. Keith, you are such an inspiration. This is such an important issue. And you are so right about people making assumptions.

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  17. My goodness... amazing poem! I'm speechless. Love it!
    Kaibril's Sweet Life

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  18. A wonderful poem Keith. It is hard to know if some of these folk are panhandlers or really homeless. There is one guy here who sets up around the curve from the Kroger store with a sign that simply says veteran. He is sitting on a nice comfy chair and has an iPod and cell phone with him. Is he really a veteran who needs a helping hand or is he a panhandle?. Sadly our veterans make up a huge percentage of our homeless people and my heart aches for them.

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  19. What a wonderful post, Keith! Just last night, our UMW general meeting program was given by the director of the homeless newspaper in town. It strikes my mind that many of us may have been - at one time or another - just a stone's throw from homelessness. Sadly, we tend to generalize and suppose that all the homeless are there due to substance abuse, tendency to violence, or that they are all felons. What a wonderful thing you did for this couple, Keith, though there are those who would say to never give them money. I've thought it would be a wise thing to have a supply of restaurant gift cards along with me, and give one of them when the need arises. Incidentally, while ordinances vary in different locations, panhandling may be legal in certain areas.

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  20. I think trust is the main reason, after all the stories you read of people faking homeless and making more money a week then many with jobs, it can be hard to trust. Plus many do tend to go buy booze. Hand them food, if they curse you out and want money, booze is what they really had in mind, if they take it, then you know they truly need it.

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  21. Your poem is beautiful Keith, thank you for sharing it. I wondered what it was from and when you said you wrote it, I wondered if you can imagine and write a story from it? I hope we are evolving out of the old model of passing judgment on our fellow human beings and instead pass love on to our fellow human beings.

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  22. Love your poem Keith. The job situation for many people is perilous, no jobs available, or the money is poor. They are living on the edge. I think one of the reason others demonize the homeless is out of fear. Same reason they avoid the sick, dying, and unlovely. Could be us. There is no shame in being kind.

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  23. What a beautiful poem Keith; and the feeling behind it is even more beautiful. My opinion has always been: None of us will make it out alive so it behooves us to help one another through it.
    Perhaps we should judge one another as gently as we feel we should be judged.

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  24. I worked in law enforcement for 25 years. I could write a book on the homeless. Not all are bad, but not all are good either. What they can do to a neighborhood once they move it is horrifying. I'm not talking about this couple either.

    I live in a depressed area in central California. There is poverty everywhere. There are many that work the same corner every single day. Some go home to a nice apartment or home at the end of each day. They can make more than working a job. Some are at the bottom of the barrel and will drink away the money. Just like everywhere else there are the good and bad.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  25. I try not to pass judgment, but I have been burned by scammers so many times, I now just let my governments programs try and resolve a problem that my $2 never will. The dog thing is well known to increase donations even more than a child. I know I a callous, but I am callous because so many take advantage of good intentions.

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  26. no matter what they use the money for, i always consider their life more difficult than mine.

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  27. Your poem is beautiful, and your desire to help those people shows what a kind and compassionate person you are.
    Compassion still exists - but I feel that many people today have become indifferent, emotionless, and perhaps greedy. They are too immersed in their own private world to care much about others.

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  28. You have a kind soul Keith who know how they got in that situation but we must all look upon one another with kindness after all we are all part of one big family.

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  29. I always try to go by my gut. It seems some people are just panhandling because it's easy, but there have been times when I felt genuinely moved to assist, and I have to think those instances were because the person really needed it.

    We had an interesting experience a while back. We picked up a guy who was carrying a gas can and he informed us he got more sympathy if he was carrying the can. He was just looking for a ride to a job interview anyway. Crazy. Sometimes people just need a leg up, eh?

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  30. Beautiful poem and beautiful essay, Keith. Bless you for being kind to that couple. I think we get all caught up in trying to figure out who is really needy, and put our judgment on people by deciding who is "deserving" of our help. I'm not sure how we reached that point in this society, but it bothers me. You are right. We should not judge others for needing help.

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  31. I think it's easier for people to dismiss those who are down on their luck because it gives them a reason to believe that it couldn't happen to them. In truth, it could happen to any of us given the wrong set of circumstances in life.

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  32. Keith,
    Every time I read one of your posts, it takes me to a place that I can really relate. When I see someone homeless, I always give them a bit of money. I have heard, like you, people throughout my life doubt or question or judge the homeless. And I often wonder how they could judge when they will never know the pain or thoughts of these people.

    I really liked your poem, and I have written a couple myself. I didn't realize you liked poetry too. (and yes, those were macarons.....I love them.)

    You are such a compassionate person, and I truly believe that is what the world is missing today.

    ~Sheri

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  33. It's easy to wonder about the lives of the homeless or the hungry. Thank you for reminding us that we can do more than wonder.
    Deb@ http://debioneille.blogspot.com

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  34. My young baby brother said it best in words I will never forget...it's not about them...it's about you...

    and even though I have always given when the time was right (stopped at a red light not moving in traffic) I always wondered where my money was going. With his words I stopped wondering and started remembering the verse that says...be kind to strangers for you never know when you might be hosting an angel unaware

    it's about me...I want to be the kind of person who gives freely without judgement...

    what a great post...and poem!

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  35. What a lovely poignant poem.
    I think some people, particularly younger ones, have chosen homelessness as a way of life kind of like the new bohemians and so are happy enough as long as they have love and a place to sleep.
    However, of course many are simply without and have to beg to survive.
    I was downtown last week and someone had just given this very young guy $20 and he was radiant. He asked me to join him for breakfast on his $20 but I had a meeting. I was so touched and probably will never forget this kid and his happiness that he wanted to share with a stranger.

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  36. Nice to see you try your hand at verse! We very often don't know what has lead to others' circumstances and it is heartbreaking to see when someone has fallen on hard times. Of course there are those who are looking to take advantage of our philanthropy, as Brian mentioned, as well. There are both in this world. How we do things in our family (and we teach this to our kids) is very similar to what Pura Vida commented. It's not so much up to us to judge the intentions of others and whether they sincerely have a need...but to examine our own hearts and how we will respond.

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  37. What you did was very kind! I think a lot of people fear the homeless. They think they're drug addicts or convicts or mentally unstable, and therefore steer clear. The truth is, nobody really knows what brought them where they're at. I'm sure many would appreciate a small act of kindness. That reminds me of a story when my kids were young. A homeless man was standing in the rain and my kids wanted to help him. So we got an umbrella and a Lunchables meal and gave it to him. He was so grateful!

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  38. Our church runs a venue for the homeless and hard-up called "Coffee Talk." It's set up like a coffee shop serving coffee, breakfast treats, and people they can talk to if they need help with specific things. Some people are given free haircuts if they are preparing to apply for work. Others are families who need clothing and flood. For that, there is our Food Pantry and the Clothes Closet. Some of the clients are regulars for years, loving their homeless lives on bicycles. One couple has a computer because the guy's mom is always good for money. Another regular is a schizophrenic who won't take her meds but LOVES all the sugary treats. She sleeps on her bag behind the church office building if no one catches her at it. One guy who was a great car detailer offered hand-painted wine glasses for sale, took orders and cash and then left town. We get all kinds...
    There are church members who feel uncomfortable having these people around...for example, one Sunday School teacher who uses the Coffee Talk room for class on Sunday wears latex gloves for fear she'll pick up germs...whatever.

    It does make one want to judge some church members!

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  39. Probably not the same thing (or maybe it is, I don't know), but today while sitting in the metro I heard two women talking in Estonian. A man sitting next to me turned to look at the ladies and frowned. Estonian has a bit of a stigma in Finland, and my immediate response was to think why just hearing a language can make people so judgmental. Even when you don't understand a word of it. Anyway, yay for helping out the young couple! We will probably never know the stories behind the people, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve help.

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  40. Thoughtful post and beautiful poem , they were in need for whatever reason and you were right to help them .

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  41. What a beautiful albeit sad post this was to read Keith. I'm sure that couple were touched by your kindness. And yes, there are all kinds of reasons why people end up in that situation, often through no fault of their own. I hope things get better for them and perhaps, your kind gesture last night gave them a little more hope to keep trying and to not give up.

    Hugs to you and Beate.

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  42. Keith you're a kind man!
    I only can say as bible says: Don't judge others and you won't be judged. (sorry for my translating!) They both are in need, and deserve help --your money.

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  43. Unfortunately many people do dehumanize the homeless. Especially since many homeless people are also coping with mental illness or addiction. When I lived right in the heart of Toronto, I encountered many homeless people who were just happy to chat and pat my dog.

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  44. I completely agree with you Keith.. we should not judge other people and their circumstances... as you said, we don't know what brought them there... if we want to helo we should... if not that is okay too but we really shouldn't judge ...

    You are always so insiteful... love your posts Keith ...:-)

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  45. Very touching poem, Keith, and I agree with you. I find, especially, that people tend to judge those with mental illness. It could be depression, autism, retardation, etc., but we really should try to put ourselves into the other person's shoes! As a child from the age of 8 and in grade two, I was put into a special class for slow learners. I can't begin to tell you how often the children in the regular classes made fun of me...called me stupid, retard, etc., and it hurt...a LOT! :( For this reason I think I am much more sensitive to others and am careful not to treat them with any less respect and/or kindness than anyone else! We are, after all, human beings!!!

    I frequent a grocery store in my area, and there is a black man who seems to be in his 20's who works at keeping the shopping carts clean and well organized. I am not sure if he is autistic or what, but I make it a point to smile at him and say hello to him whenever I see him. You should see his beautiful smile, Keith! You can see that he appreciate it that someone takes the time to smile at him and talk to him.

    Great post, as always.

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  46. What a lovely poem. It's not so surprising that younger people are having a harder time making a go of it these days. As was said earlier in the comments, the minimum wage as it now stands, is not a living wage. Bless you Keith, I hope others behind you saw and also helped.

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  47. Very direct to the point poem. I also wonder what will happen with the homeless. When possible, I always pull out some bills and change. But it is not enough.

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  48. I am guilty of that...always thinking they will buy alcohol or drugs but never thinking what made them end up in that situation. Very nice poem makes us think.

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  49. I TOTALLY agree!! So many people do are against welfare because they say that people should just get up and work! Easier said then done! Nowadays even a college degree doesn't guarantee a job. Our own problem is trying to decide if the person wants the money for drugs, sometimes we will buy them a meal, but no money. There are lots of gangs and drug users around here.The sad thing is, many of these people who hold up signs are veterans! I believe many are unable to work because of post traumatic stress, they need treated better than we give them!

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  50. If you have chance Keith, check out this post by a retired nun.
    http://cominghometomyself.blogspot.com/2014/05/one-mighty-fine-woman.html
    You are both my heroes. Too many of us are just a few paychecks away from being homeless and have no right to be judgmental.

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  51. Well done, Keith. Proud to know you.
    I like what TexWisGirl said.

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  52. Yes, we do dehumanize people on the margins of society. It's sad that people who are unable to make it do not get any assistance.

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  53. We have to give away two and a half percent of our unused cash ( savings if you will ) in charity once a year. We can choose any month or date. It can be approximate as well. You would think that we do. Wrong ! Most of us don't and this is only one part of the society.

    I am not sure how it works with people of other faiths.

    It is funny though how we promptly pay our taxes. I just wish that part of our taxes would go to helping the homeless instead of making them go through a lot of red tape.

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  54. We have no idea why people do what they do to survive. There used to be a homeless man who "worked" the corner where I exited the hwy to go home from the airport. I used to bring him left over sandwiches from the airplane. One time I apologized for airplane food and he said it was better than the dumpster which is where he would have eaten that night if it weren't for my food handout. I don't always give money to people on the corner, perhaps because I'm a little jaded that they won't buy drugs or booze with it. And I don't always have cash to spare anyway. But I like to help in anyway I can. I know I am very lucky...I have a good job that I love, a house, and a family. And when I'm in a place to share my good luck, I like to pay it forward.

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  55. Wonderful poem. We tend to look past them to make ourselves feel better I guess

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  56. I have found that just because they hold up a sign doesn't necessarily mean they are in bad time. Some pray on the good side of people to make us feel sorry for them, we give them money and realize they are lying just go get money off of people. NOT everyone but enough that I don't give to people at stop lights anymore. There are other ways to help people.

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  57. That is a beautiful poem. You have a kind heart and a good soul. We tend to judge people harshly without knowing their story. I feel that part of the reason for this is that we can remain detached. By making them villains instead of victims, we do not have to assume any type of responsibility towards them, we do not have to feel guilty about our own (sometimes) extravagant lifestyles, and our conscience remains clear when we walk away without looking at them. We can simply ignore them, forget they exist, and feel justified in our harsh dismissal and criticism of them. Sure there are bad apples in every barrel, but not all of them should be judged by those few. The truth in the matter is that everyone has a story, and if we don't know what it is, we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Some of those stories are heartbreaking. Many of the homeless are mentally ill, or they fell on hard times that wiped out their resources. If you don't want to contribute anything to someone asking for a handout, that's okay. But don't be mean about it, and don't make rude comments or harsh judgments. Walk away with kindness in your heart, even smile at them and wish them a nice day if you'd like. Always choose kindness, and being a better person. I think you have that in you, Keith, and I truly admire it.

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  58. I never have judged people in this situation. I assume most have mental issues or have just fallen on bad times. Having a very close family member homeless for over a year, it hurts my heart so much. I always give and figure it is up to them how they use the money.

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  59. You have a kind heart Keith ~ I like how you are trying out the poem format as it shows your spontaneous thoughts ~ I don't want to judge them but I would rather give them (the poor & homeless) the fishing rod rather than the fish, if you know what I mean ~ There is young man who begs in the street near our office ~ People give him coins but I see that he does it everyday so my thoughts are why doesn't he work or find work as he is young & not disabled ~ But I don't know his story so I don't think badly of him nor of any beggars ~ Who knows what brought him to this situation ~ But I agree with you that we have become indifferent to other's needs & small comforts ~ Bless your kind heart ~

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  60. Bad examples I'd guess. I used to care about the homeless but I've seen so many people pretend to be in order to fool gullible people, so I can't trust any of them.

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  61. You've got a kind heart. I knew this already.
    I give what I can to the street musicians and once in awhile to the sign holders at the intersections.
    Once, I handed somebody an apple and they gave it back. But, that's a rarity. Mostly are grateful. Even a smile and a hello, acknowledgment will make their day. Humans. We need more like you, Keith.

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  62. Keith, I liked the free style poetry that you used to convey
    your thoughts. Who are we to judge? I think we need to follow
    our gut if you feel they are sincere give a helping hand. I helped
    a young couple during the holidays and they were very honest
    and grateful they had hit a bump in the road.

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  63. I think we are so caught up in our own " lives ", that we don't even recognize them, we see them, but put them out of our minds.
    I always wonder we're their families or friends are.
    Beautiful poem.

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  64. Yes, I definitely do feel that people look down on the less fortunate - especially the homeless - and just assume that they are there by choice, begging and getting hand-outs. I think this dehumanization is a way of distancing ourselves from the very real and raw reality that these dispossessed haven't chosen their situation and are there out of sheer desperation.

    I wish people would remember that they are, after all, fellow human beings.

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  65. Whatever they do with the money, we will be blessed for being kind hearted and charitable. Isn't it nicer to think the best of people anyway?

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  66. Truly a thought provoking post. Thank you. I know I have been guilty of judging others - my teen age son usually reminds that we just need to help people when we can and not judge. He will go out of his way to share his meager teenage means with others in need. He is an example to me. Thank you for this post.

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  67. I like the contents of your poem. Very inciteful thoughts. I believe you felt deep in your gut that these people were for real and you followed your feelings. Sometimes I do too and other times I feel some of the homeless are scammers.

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  68. Let's hope that they actually needed the money and aren't scamming you. I've heard too many stories of people who can make a substantial living doing this despite being perfectly capable of finding employment.

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  69. You are very kind Keith. In our small country town we didn't see this until the oil boom hit about a year ago. Now we see a couple with a dog on the corner most every day.

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  70. Yes I've given money clothes, food, winter coats, I've given money only to be told by another, 'you know you shouldn't do that, you're just encouraging them to stay lazy or they'll use it for a drink or drugs' I've given gloves winter gloves because someone was asking for money and it must have been minus 20, so I gave my very warm gloves, and again people look away and they're mad at me....they hate giving so they don't appear foolish because people around them think they're just fools, I've given one hundred dollars to a prostitute, because she was getting older and had nothing, and I gave it to her, like I would give it to anyone who was so down on their luck... ...a man almost crying saying he swore on all that was good that the money was to feed his children not to get drugs not even to get food, I gave him money, again I was judged, given disgusted looks and I didn't care, a quarter , a dollar of a 100. if i have it I WILL give it, and I'm called stupid and foolish and encouraging all those people too lazy to work...I've been yelled at to stop giving money to stangers by people I knew....I can't stand the hurting of people, the hurting of animals and there is so little I can do, and when I can I'm judged and I stand up and continue. ...'they're just using you'.....'I can't believe your stupidity' I have been judged and condemned because of this generosity I was born with..My body Broke and don't understand I could have done so much, apparently I was told I brought it on myself....maybe when I leave this earth I'll understand...

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  71. A conundrum for sure. Our priest had a very nice sermon on this very topic recently. No easy answer. I always offer at least a prayer for the homeless I encounter. Our small town doesn't have a homeless problem, however we see a lot during our stay in Florida.

    Big hugs, honey...

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  72. Oh yes indeed - and the current Australian government has just announced budget cuts that turn it into national policy. Compassion fails.

    Stewart M - Melbourne

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  73. There are people who truly need other people's help. There is really no way to know who those people are and it's not our place to judge. I grew up in an area where people scammed other people into donating money. Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut. If your gut says donate, than donate.

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  74. hahaha, your comment cracked me up and made my day. :~)

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  75. What a lovely poem! So thoughtful and compassionate!

    Many times, while walking or driving along, I see people with these signs and awaiting the aid of some passer-by. When I was single, I usually carried coupon booklets from Hardee's, McDonald's, Burger King, etc on me, instead of cash to grab a quick meal between sales - yes I was a car salesperson, an insurance agent and a furniture salesperson and Designer. So, when I'd see someone with a sign saying, Will Work for Food...I'd stop and offer them a meal (usually they were right on the same corner as the restaurant)...and they'd rush over...we'd order...and sometimes even sit together as we ate...and talked. Most times, just for a simple meal, they'd be crying and hugging on me as we left one another. It was amazing and so touching. I loved being able to do that.

    Jan ♥

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  76. our governments and the media dehumanise poor people and poor communities and then societal and individual opinions follow - after all most of us believe what we read in the papers and to greater of lesser degree 'obey' our governments

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  77. It's truly easy in these times to grow cynical or rather ungracious with our own blessings. Truth is it reminds me of a little sign a pastor I knew in India had in his house that said: to double your joy divide it with someone...that has stuck with me over the years.

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  78. Beautiful poem Keith! Personally I don't think that everyone is judging. Here in our town we have a lot of homeless, kind of by choice and kind of not in that they have homes but due to mental illness they choose the streets...I know this from a few friends who actually work in counselling centers. My counsellor friends always recommends to give actual food but not money. It is a delicate situation and I have to believe that the homeless vary from town to town, from location to location.

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  79. Such a powerful poem and very apropos for today. A lot of people recognize that homeless people are still people. I do. I see them everywhere- and I am flummoxed by our elected politicians who don't help but hinder the recovery of our economy and the people most affected by it. Mr Obama goes on expensive ( for the taxpayer ) vacations and from all I observe doesn't give a damn any more than any of the other politicians feeding at the trough in Washington DC. They should be ashamed.
    I'd like to see all of them handed a shopping cart and given a month out there on the street to further appreciate what these mostly innocent people are going through...day in and day out. I do what I can by donating to the food bank and occasionally handing people money or sometimes I just ask them what they would like me to buy for them at the store. And then do it. Just talking to them and not walking by is a gift anyone can afford.

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  80. For 2 years when I went to go to grad school I lived in Savannah, Georgia. There was a lot of homeless people there. I guessing because it's warmer than where I'm from and live now (Nebraska).

    One guy came up and said his car broke down. He needed money to call someone. My Mom said, "No." right away. Later my Dad said, "I thought you were supposed to be a Christian. Jesus wouldn't of turned someone down like that." The next day we were down by the river. The same exact guy was giving the same exact story to someone else. They gave the guy some money. My Dad felt foolish.

    Also in Savannah I was hanging out with my friends. Another time than the before story. I'm not a bar person, but that is where we were. A guy outside the bar said, "Hey do you have some money?" I was intoxicated and said, "Not really. I'm a poor college student. Do you have some money?" He handed me a $20 bill. I'm not proud of bumming off a bum, but it is what it is.

    When I went to undergrad school in Kansas City there was a bum that hung out in the plaza area. His name was Jerry. He was known to stay with girls that bought him things. He had a nice Chief's jacket. With him I thought, "That must be the life." Very little bills to pay, and other people take care of you. He was on Nightline once. I saw a whole show about him.

    I feel for people that are down and out. I think many of them are on the spectrum. They look normal, but don't mix well with society. Some have addiction problems. Possibly mental health issues.

    I feel for the "real bums", but I think there are a lot of scam artists out there to.

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  81. I loved the poem. And your gesture, too. Why do we dehumanise others? Because we lack empathy, man. We lack empathy.

    Greetings from London.

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  82. In my experience I have found that many people donate to organisations who in turn help the homeless/needy, but seeing it in reality and in turn directly helping (as you did) seems to summon judgement from a lot of people. In other words its too hard to sort out who justifiably needs the help when in my opinion it doesn't matter how or why, they got to where they are. Just help your fellow man if you have the resources to do so. It is no different than saying (and I've heard it many times) how derision is heaped upon people who are dying from smoking for example. Suffering is suffering, no more or less. And as decent human beings we have the responsibility to help those less fortunate if we are able to - and with respect and dignity. Or to help those who have "brought it upon themselves" as I hear people say. Shame on them.

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  83. Keith,a wonderful touching post and poem! I work in a city with a lot of homeless people and some that refuse help when offered. Not sure why?
    Enjoy your weekend ahead!

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  84. You had shortly told me about that couple after you met them. In those lines you wrote me in your mail I could see how much they touched you and I was yet again amazed my the incredibly caring person that you are.
    Reading this post now makes me speechless. This is exactly why I love you so much. Because you look at the world, at any living creature, at any human being with a loving heart. Just imagine the difference it would make if we would all look at each other with a loving heart and not with prejudice and judgement. You have the most beautiful soul. And I'm sure you touched that couple just as deeply as they touched you. I hope fate will bring them back to a safe place.

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  85. Your write well my friend. We live in a cold hearted and judgmental society...here in Detroit I see it on the news every day. People run over people and leave them to die all the time and shoot just to shoot. The haves look down on the have nots.....but the scripture tells me nothing is new under the sun. We are human and this is the ugly side. There is goodness and love also in the world....the world just does not want to share it. In this day and age many have lost their jobs..they have become the working poor.... the one who looks down their noses and judges could very well be the next person on the street corner with a sign.

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  86. As a newcomer I had to catch up on a few posts so first of all Congratulations on your recent engagement! Bavaria is indeed a beautiful area of Germany and I am certain you will soon called it home!
    A very good poem, thank you for sharing!
    An interesting post on trees as well, thanks again! Trees have such a personality, one could easily imagine them as humans! It is the sound playing through the branches however that speaks to me the most.
    Blessings,

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  87. Your words make me think....and your action was gracious and caring. I admire both. Thank you for sharing your poem, your experience, AND your reaction. I will think about this as I sleep tonight.

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  88. I have not had any personal experiences, but I read stories of people on reddit. You can see two of them from the links below.

    Homeless stories

    Getting out of homelessness

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  89. I used to feel that such feelings that you've mentioned in your poem can only felt by those who have experienced such situations.Glad to see that human like you exist to feel the and share the pain.
    God bless you.
    And hey!i'll be so happy if u see my new post,Its something so excited there.And i am so happy.Plz visit:)

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  90. It only takes certain dominoes of events to bring a person from secure to broke. Unfortunately, many today are just two steps from financial disaster. Not that hard to imagine falling from secure to begging for money, or being crafts street vender selling whatever they can make for money. Ditto with being homeless. Granted, there are professional beggars, druggies, alcoholics etc, but so many homeless aren't users. They simply are victims of circumstances (including medical issues) trying their best to survive. Get a job? Sure. Do you have an address? Or phone number? Wait, a box on the street, living out of your car, or tent in the woods doesn't qualify. And when you've lost everything and you're simply trying to make enough to eat for the day it's not it's easy to have the facilities to have clean clothes (so you can work) or an address.
    I try to be careful in judging. I've heard a lot personal stories.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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  91. You wanna hear something so super strange? Earlier this week, I tried to give a homeless person on the street corner food and some cash and he declined it. I really had no idea what to make of that encounter. He was holding a sign that said, 'Free to a good home. No wife, no money, no job.' I was stumped.

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  92. lovel poem - very thought-provoking.

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  93. We assume that these people are lazy because we are a distrusting society. This has been built over years of time, because there are those who have and continue to take advantage of generosity. And then when they are exposed, it ruins it for those who are actually in need. How many times have you offered to buy a homeless person a sandwich and you can see the distaste in their face as they refuse it. If they really needed help, a sandwich would be a welcome sight. Alas not all are like that. So that's why.

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  94. So many of us live paycheck to paycheck and are one paycheck away from being homeless.

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  95. I think you are very kind Keith. I don't always give hand outs to the homeless. I often forget the good fortune I have to have a roof over my head and food to eat. You make me stop and ponder this now. May we all have enough. That is my wish.

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  96. A agree,everyone needs the benefit of the doubt. One thing about getting older I am less likely to judge where someone is coming from and where they have been

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  97. A recent experiment showed that disguising people as homeless made them invisible to friends and even relatives, who passed them on the street without looking at them!

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  98. Lovely to discover your blog and many thanks for visiting me.
    We do really need to help those that need help and should not judge them

    Great post -

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  99. We may guess that’s all! Only a man could help another… whatever led them to street, it’s the response of society which includes me and you.

    Btw. It’s a beautiful and touching poem!

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  100. Yes, you are right :)
    If you visit developing countries like India you will see much more pathetic things. Just do whatever we can and co-operate with organizations and individuals who are in this field helping such unfortunate people, thats it :)

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  101. Hi Keith - rather more than I care to think about .. and to make matters worse - we don't know who are the ones who really need help, or are just fleecing the public of their generosity ...

    Good for you ... I hope they can find a way to get themselves out of their obviously very difficult situation .. this is good for us to think about .. cheers Hilary

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  102. You are a very kind man Keith, thoughtful and non-judgmental. That's a lovely poem and I recognise things about that whole scenario. There are some people, who you come across fleetingly, whose plight and story really capture your attention. You did a good thing.

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  103. Yes, I think society tends to dehumanize the homeless and poverty-stricken, because it's easier to dismiss them if they're labeled and bundled into one faceless group, rather than respected as individual human beings. I've done a lot of volunteer work with the homeless, and one of the greatest gifts we can give them is respect.

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  104. I agree with Grace. I'd rather give them the fishing rod than the fish. As that saying in the Bible: Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. I don't judge the homeless and I have helped them and written about this subject on my blog. But we need a better solution than just giving them handouts. More jobs, more affordable housing, counseling. You're very kind, Keith. And nice to see this inspired you to write a poem. You always see the good in others. :)

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  105. This was a wonderful post. I try to donate to those less fortunate when I can. I agree circumstances can take a turn for the worse for any of us. Once however when I was younger, many years ago... I offered a woman, who was begging on a street corner the only $5 I had in my pocket. She then lectured me that the five bucks wasn't much money and that she couldn't get what she needed with it. I didn't know what to say. All I was trying to do was help.

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  106. Thank you for commenting on my blog. I appreciated it.

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  107. Yes, as a society we dehumanise the needy. We call them losers. We feel shame that they are begging when we live in a world of plenty - well, isn’t that what our world is called?

    Sometimes I give and sometimes I walk past. I don’t know the answer. All I know is that a society which neglects its poorest and most needy is a bad society.

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  108. Thank you, for making me think about this. Sigh.

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  109. This post nearly brought me to tears. If it was not for my mother, Keith I would probably be in a similar situation. I recently lost my home, job etc. But, I am so grateful for my mother who has taken me and my children in, so that I can get my life back together. I don't know why there is so much dehumanization but I pray it someday changes and more people have a heart like yours. You are a good man!

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  110. You're an awesome man, Keith!

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  111. When I see a person sitting on the sidewalk begging, I stop to talk to them even for a minute. I give without judgement as it's not my place to fabricate a story of how they will use the money. They are definitely in need of compassion, love, acceptance and basic things. On a very cold day last winter, I gave my new pair of Tinsulate gloves to such a beggar. He was so thankful to have something to wear on his hands. They are always polite and grateful.

    Who knows the circumstances of their lives.
    JB

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  112. this is a special post Keith
    we as indivduals should never judge anyone, its not our place, if we can help someone in need then I feel we must, life is usually a circle and we may need help as well

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  113. Great questions! It is hard to give when you don't know what the money is going to buy. I've given before to witness that money buying something other than food. I guess the answer is to listen to that still, small voice inside and not judge what happens next.

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  114. Beautiful, Keith. Just beautiful!!!! (And not just the poem… all of your inspired thoughts as well). It's definitely not our place to judge. It never is.

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  115. Beautiful poem. I love how you think and the questions you ponder.

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  116. What a lovely heart you have Keith but I knew that:)
    And yes I think this a really deshumanized world and this make
    me feel sad sometimes.
    And yes I know some people like you
    Describe and your poem is beautiful.
    This post is absolutely beautiful Keith.



    I had live in this site ( a condominium in the country side) many of these houses are really big.

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  117. Sorry I dont finush yet only I want adf I live here about 10 years and still my best friends here are the gardeners and the people work here.I dont have car so when I go the city I was walki g until the buses the curious is I saw some cars of here but they never stop.
    But I know that.

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  118. Hi Keith,

    A profound poem and thanks for sharing those thoughts. You might realise what my ideals are about this. So here goes....

    One of the most profound times in my life was when I worked with the homeless and the 'rough sleepers' in the city of Stoke-on-Trent. The people I worked with did not fit the convenient stereotypes. There was the educated, articulate man who had lost everything through a bitter divorce. Everything except his dignity. There was the young father with his daughter who called home a cardboard box. Then there were the teenagers. Frightened, homeless kids shunned by their families. I provided them with warm drinks and kind conversation. You could see in their eyes how much such gestures meant.
    Of course, I witnessed the drug-fuelled and drunken behaviour. The sad, the desperate, the lonely, trying to find comfort from a hostile environment. Indeed, the combination of drugs and the relentless fear of not knowing what was happening to their lives; is a prime factor in the onslaught of mental illness. A negative reality can have deep and lasting effects on the mental health well being of those who have found their life turned upside down.
    Those times working with the homeless and the rough sleepers has provided a powerful and inspirational impact on me. I know you cannot pass judgement on others based on preconceived notions and misconceptions. I may see a brother or sister in need and I will not pass them by. I see people, through circumstances beyond their control, lying cold, tired, hungry and alone in darkened shop doorways. I see the sadness in their eyes. I note the looks of disgust from those who are more than willing to stigmatise.
    Circumstances so overwhelming and despairing can happen to any of us. This isn't just being humane for the homeless. This is being humane to all humanity. So imagine if you were that lost soul in a darkened shop doorway; you may well experience the human disease of apathy. I hope not.

    Peace and hope, my friend.

    Gary

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  119. We dehumanize everything to make ourselves feel better most days

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  120. I do believe there are those who truly need help.......but for some reason many are overlooked. It amazes me those who get the help, who really aren't in need or use the system. God bless those who help those in need...I pray daily Lord, put someone in my way who I may help. Blessings~~~Roxie

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  121. What a beautiful poem, Keith. Bravo.

    We judge everyone, it's a human condition, sadly.

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  122. Your poem is beautiful, insightful, Keith and so are you.

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  123. Of course, we do ... most of the times, not bearing in mind how they must be living such downtrodden life ... Such a beautiful piece of writing, your poem ... heartfelt ... Smiles ..

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  124. I always look at someone and always try to give a little - even if it is not true to make them stand out there and ask - they must need something. And there bu the grace of God - it could be I.

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  125. Humanity shouldn't just be a word, rather we should try turning it into a real deed ... very well written post.

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  126. Keith, I love this blog! Thank you for you words of wisdom and example of kindness! :)

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  127. So many thoughts on this post. Where to start.... we lack trust in others so we often don't believe their story, we want to believe we would never be in that position... so those people must have something wrong with them, out and out fear, discomfort.... we feel there has to be a reason so we assume the worst. We tend to cover up the feelings of fear and discomfort by making assumptions, often negative ones to justify our actions... Good for you seeing the positive aspect and helping another person out.

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  128. i love how you spark these kinds of conversations. i often find myself looking at a certain situation and trying to figure out the steps that led to it.. and unfortunately i think society does dehumanize people who are going through rough patches in their lives. think it would be a wonderful world if we all stopped and cared just a little.

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  129. When we were on one of our roadtrips, we were in the middle of no where in Utah and there was a family at McDonalds asking for gas money. We bought them some gas and bought them breakfast. They were so thankful. I hope to move to Portland and do volunteer work for the homeless. I feel like anyone could become homeless overnight and it's so sad that people don't get the help they need. Everyone has a story to tell.

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  130. I do my best not to judge and we have raised our son the same way. If you have it to share and someone is in need then just do it. What is there to think about?

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  131. I love that poem- so beautiful:) I try not to judge because I imagine it would be easy for any of us to lose our jobs, homes, etc.

    Matthew 25:35-40- For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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