Saturday, April 07, 2012

40 To 40 Day 19: On Being A Humanitarian

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothea_Lange
The past two weeks we've been doing some remodeling to the house. Being at home most of the time, I've been around for most of the process. It's only been 2 guys up until the last couple of days (highly recommend this person by the way, if you ever need some contract work done). The man we hired, A, and the man he brought along to help, J. A (not his real name) is the sweetest man, and I've gotten to know him fairly well since we've been spending 8 hours a day together.

The most amazing thing I discovered is how A met J. J was a manager at a fast food restaurant, and was training A's daughter. It was then discovered that J was pretty much homeless and sleeping out of his car. Without hesitation A opened his home to J and let him stay with his family.

This was a couple of months ago. This story alone is amazing to me. It takes a big heart and possibly some empathy to be able to open your home and life to a complete stranger. Coming from a background where I left home and my future was unknown, I still don't know if I could do that.

I've always been a trusting person. At times overly-trusting. It's bitten me in the butt a few times over the years, but the bottom line is I believe that people are generally good. I try and think about the "whys" of a situation before jumping to a conclusion about a person. The homeless person on the street? It probably wasn't the plan. No one wants to rely on others for help. It's not like the single mother of three working two jobs decided that is what her big dream was in life. Children in foster care didn't make that their top priority when they were born. I'm not interested in a big debate here (maybe some other time though), but I want to show where I'm coming from. We all have the same purpose in our lives, and that is living a happy life. The argument is in the details of how to get there.

Since we all are living for the same purpose, and are in the same boat, I have always felt we have a duty to help. Will the guy at the freeway exit with the sign asking for money use the change to buy alcohol? Maybe he will, but maybe he won't. Are there people who stay on welfare so they don't have to work? Sure there are, but that doesn't mean everyone works the system that way. A lot of people look at anyone struggling and automatically assume that it is something they did, or did not do to themselves. They just didn't try hard enough to keep their job. They should have tried some birth control so there aren't so many mouths to feed, etc. etc. We are quick to judge, and I think we do that so we don't have to feel any responsibility towards our fellow humans. The whole "I made it myself, so you should too" attitude. That is what politicians tap into when they try and pass laws to make social programs harder to access, or cut funding.

We really have to get over ourselves. No one is any better or more deserving than anyone else, but sometimes people need more help than others. We are all unique individuals, and yes we have different levels of what we are capable of. It's unfair to hold that against someone and blame them. We need to have a higher awareness not of everyone's personal situation, but of the fact that everyone has a different reason for being in the place they are. We have to give humanity the benefit of the doubt.

We ended up hiring J to do some extra painting around the house, and in the course of this Bret found out that J has some mental issues he is trying to deal with on top (and probably contributing to) his current situation. J hasn't done the best job painting, and at times we were very frustrated. I had to keep reminding myself (and Bret) that we are still helping him out, even if it's just for a little while.

I have a good life, and I have a happy life. It's not an extravagant life, but it's comfortable, and secure. I can't say enough how grateful I am for it. I want everyone to feel this way, and I will do all I can to give as many as I can a hand up, instead of pushing them down.

Give people the benefit of the doubt.

2 comments:

Tyler Hurst said...

Was he a crazy painter or an impressionist artist?

Dani said...

He left an impression, that's for sure! ;)