Compassion

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The days are darker and colder now. The leaves have fallen off the trees and the homeless lie shivering on pavements in the city.

I met a homeless man a few weeks ago. He cannot find a home because he owed rent arrears, he cannot see a GP because he does not have an address. He cannot get free health care and has to buy medicine, while being homeless.

I spoke to him and he had a broken ankle, he needed care. Since then he has been to hospital where his leg, now ulcerated, was being dressed with bandages.

Now it’s a few weeks later and I saw him again asking for spare change. I gave him some and asked him how his leg was. He loosened the bandages and I could smell it. The skin is grey and black and he pulled a bit of it off. He needed money to buy dressings and also to get a bed for the night and to see an emergency nurse.

I gave him enough money to do this. I cannot ignore it. He could lose his leg, he could get gangrene or septicemia.

He has problems, I see that, he may be an addict or have a drink problem. But how can I walk by?

How can this world lack compassion? How can we put people in a position where they cannot access health care, cannot sleep in a bed, cannot have dignity? And there are so many more  elderly, sick, people with mental health problems, refugees, the destitute, the outcasts of society in my country and across the world.

When did we decide not to be compassionate? To take money from the poorest to give to the richest?

There is a statistic… 80 men own as much wealth as half of the world’s population… That’s 80 to 3,500,000,000….

Is that fair?

Have compassion, don’t walk on the other side of the street. There but for the grace of god go I.

10 thoughts on “Compassion

  1. My brother was a homeless addict much of his adult life even though he had family who loved him and friends who were continually taking him in. He would (in his words) “shit in his hat” and end up back on the streets. On day he told me he liked being homeless, and, of course, that made no sense to me at all.

    But, there was a moment when I understood that the money I gave him and that others gave him made it possible for him to drink himself to death, which he did. I still don’t know how I feel about it, but I no longer give money to people. I’m not saying people shouldn’t, only that I don’t. Compassion is a conundrum I will never work out. 😦 ❤

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    1. Yes it’s hard to know what to do. No one is the same I guess. There will be reasons why people are homeless which are through no fault of their own. At the moment we have massive changes to state benefits which is affecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, cutting the money, to elderly, mentally ill and young people. People who never had rent arrears, or could normally feed themselves are having to go without food to feed their children. Meanwhile the rich are getting richer. The gap between the two us exacerbated by a government that does not seem to care and constantly cuts local services. I think I have to help people. I don’t think I do enough but I do try. I guess that’s just me.

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      1. That happened here in 2008/09 when the market crashed. I had kids in my college classes who were just going to school because the government gave them financial aid and they used it to feed their mom and brothers and sisters. It was pretty easy to tell those who were suddenly without their previous lives from people like my brother. Heart-breaking and all from greed. I nearly lost my house in that crisis.

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  2. I hope that he is okay and gets the medical attention he needs. I would often hear from friends I am with about giving to the change. People would imply the person was going to buy booze. I usually reply that I would probably do the same to keep me warm on a cold’s winter night/

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