An immersion into someone else’s shoes
Recently I had to do a project photo class. I really believe in the power of art changing the world, or even just sparking an interest or conversation in people’s lives.
I chose to make a social ‘ad’ about sparking students’ minds about treatment of the homeless in their community. In order to protect the image of the homeless people that I’ve come across, I decided that I would depict a homeless person…so I put on a raggedy outfit, made myself look dirty and made a sign to go out just to take some pictures. I didn’t realize that I would actually run into people on the streets that would interact with me….or not interact with me.
As I posed on the side of the street with my sign, a family passed me. About 30 yards away from me, I could hear them laughing, talking and they even would say hey or wave to people that passed them. As soon as they got within two feet of me, they put their heads down and did not speak. Their son, probably five years old, stared at me. I felt so uncomfortable.
I was deeply hurt that the family wouldn’t even smile at me. Imagine how the homeless people that we pass on a daily basis must feel when we don’t even make eye contact with them, let alone smile or acknowledge them.
I began to feel my feet getting cold and sore. Imagine how the people we see pacing the streets with worn out shoes on, or even worse, with no shoes on…imagine how they feel, every day.
I was scared. In a place where I normally wouldn’t be afraid. I can’t even imagine the fear of sleeping on the streets. I get exhausted after staying up all night doing homework, imagine having to stay up all night for fear of getting killed, mugged, harassed or hurt because you’re sleeping under an awning.
I cannot imagine living such a misunderstood life. A life that more often than not, took a turn for the worse after a poor decision, a bad circumstance or horrible luck.
People all over should experience love and joy, and the human race has the right to be that love from other people. So why is it that often we forget that the homeless population is a person just like your boyfriend? Just like your sister? Just like your professor?
What would YOU do if your boyfriend was homeless? Your sister? Your friend? Your professor?
I know that I would treat them like a human, love them and help them. So next time you see a homeless man or woman, say hey, give a smile and talk to them. Often times that sheer act of kindness can go a long way.
Just remember, this could be you.