Why Don’t You Entertain Me?
A few weeks ago one of our volunteers overheard an inappropriate question directed at a homeless person.
While probably the most common remark they hear is “Get a job” (or some variation), this statement was a bit different than the norm. This middle-aged man carrying a suitcase was staring down at a man with a cardboard sign, and said “Why don’t you at least try entertaining, like those street musicians?” Then, he shook his head and walked away.
Homeless people are not dogs that can do tricks on command for their treats. Nor should they have to be. Have you ever heard the famous quote from the book Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins”?
How would you feel being told to do tricks when you’re already holding a sign asking for change?
What Can We Do?
The man with the suitcase did not contribute anything positive to this homeless person’s life. However, giving him money may not have been the most positive response either. So, what can we do?
It’s not as hard as you may think. Homeless people are people; they are human beings. A really great way to respond is to treat them as such. Consider walking up to them, meeting them at eye level, and talking to them as you would a friend. You can say anything from “Hey, how are you doing?” to “Would it bother you if I pray for you right here?” Never forget they’re humans just like you and the rest of us.
Take a chance to learn what they’ve experienced. But don’t stop there; give them a way to move forward. A good example is inviting them to come to your church (or one nearby) on Sunday. Church is a place that offers unconditional love and support. Something we all need. A dollar will help them get some food, but people who care can help them take a few steps forward (baby steps!) It can remind them that they matter, they are loved.
This may sound like a long and bothersome process, or too much for you to tackle. Though we’d like to challenge you to try it once. How about one time in the year 2016? You can help change someone’s life.