Have I lost my humanity?
Something happened on Thursday afternoon and it’s left me asking myself this question. I was unpacking my shopping from the car and I heard a voice behind me asking if I have a boyfriend. I turned around to see a man, and replied ‘no but I have a husband’.
When I looked a little closer I could see the man was awkward, sweating, small in stature and walking towards me with a limp, laden with two large shopping bags.
The guy then went on to ask how long it would be until my husband got home, he was slurring his words and I could smell alcohol on his breath. I lied and said my husband had just called and was down the road on his way back from work.
I felt uneasy on a busy street, just talking, with a guy I’d never met but still it was just talking.
‘Oh, it’s just I really needed some help’
Those were his words, except he spoke them with an exasperation and sadness that I wasn’t prepared for.
He continued to walk and I continued to unpack my shopping.
I then overheard him ask a passer-by if he would help to carry his shopping bags to the nearest bus stop. The passer-by just shook his head.
I called out and told him to hang on one minute while I locked the house and got Rose from the car. I took his shopping bags, with Rose in one arm and the bags in the other and we started walking.
He told me how shameful it was that a woman was carrying his bags because he couldn’t manage them himself.
I considered how shameful it was that I had thought twice about helping him.
It took us 10 minutes to get to the bottom of the road and the bus stop. Mostly because his disability prevented him from walking very quickly. I asked his name and he told me with a wink ‘Big Ben, on account of my size’.
I left him there on that bus stop, with his heavy shopping bags, and walked away with my own burden.
When I got home I wept.
I wept for Big Ben and the thought of him struggling.
I wept for all the Big Bens who only make it through the day with the help of a stiff drink.
This is what my world has come to: a man stops to talk to me in the street and it sets alarm bells ringing?
I think twice about helping someone in need in case something dreadful might happen?
The smell of alcohol and seemingly odd, but as it happens perfectly reasonable questions made me pre-judge this man.
We live in a society where we are fearful of one another. Is that because so many awful things happen to ordinary people on a daily basis? It heightens our expectation that danger could be lurking around every corner.
We live in a society that is losing compassion and humanity.
And that is a crying shame.
Image credit-Positive and Encouraged