Cardboard and markers
As I was headed from one meeting to another today, I stopped in the left turn lane to enter one of the highways. Across the way, I saw someone standing alongside the exit ramp, waving at cars, and holding a cardboard sign I couldn't read. I didn't need to read the sign to know what it said. We've all seen it before. Even though the person was facing away from me, I caught myself momentarily looking away as if to avoid their glance.
We've all ignored "that person" at times and hopefully most of us have donated to that person from time-to-time. But the key word in that sentence is person. How quick I am at moments to rob people of their humanity when I begin to feel uncomfortable, unwilling or unable to contribute because I have no cash on me.
The person we see on the side of the road has a story. They may be there due to lack of support, hard times or poor decisions. What was important for me to acknowledge in that moment was the shame I felt for the life I often take for granted when confronted by someone else who is in a greater day-to-day struggle than I am. My own internal battle does not permit me to oversimplify their story and explain away why they are in that situation or ignore them. While I cannot go through helping everyone who has fallen on hard time, I must at least strive to not rob them of their story and humanity.