Saturday, December 1, 2012

Compassion is a Tourist Attraction

A tourist takes a photo of a police officer giving a homeless man some boots and the photo goes viral.  Is compassion for the very poor so unique to us that we have to photograph the experience to keep it as a fond memory?  When I saw the photo, like others, I thought the photo was touching and the officer should be acknowledged and applauded.  After that, I felt guilty and sad that this act of kindness had to be documented like a rare sighting of the comet.  Next, I thought about my vacation photos compared to this photographer.  My vacation albums include photos of trips to the zoo, museum visits, meals with friends and not one of random acts of kindness.  I congratulate this photographer for noticing the moment and sharing it with the world.   Lastly, isn’t there something more we should do for this homeless man than just socks and boots?  Why is there no concern for the homeless man after the he receives his new footwear?  It is freezing and he likely needs more than just boots.  And if there is more concern, why isn’t that news?

We live in the comfort of our homes with all our stuff and are constantly told from advertisers that we need more. I am grateful for all the gifts in my life and even my problems are luxurious. Should I get a new lap top, I’ll need a new car soon, where should my kids go to school, and should we go to Target or Costco? I may stress about these questions, but I know that I am very lucky. Perhaps I am overly sensitive right now because we are in the holiday season and being bombarded with ads and the pressure to buy gifts whether we need them or not.   Movies are written and songs are sung about paying it forward, loving another, and forgiveness and yet, we can’t fix the ills of our society.  However, we have figured out how to build bigger homes, visit more vacation spots, buy faster cars and more electronics and when we dine in restaurants, we are served more than we can consume.  This happens all while so many go without.  
I am imperfect and not as spiritually elevated as some of my friends.  Still, this month I will donate food and clothes because I have more than enough.   Maybe others will do the same.   And maybe our leaders will be inspired to find the answer to helping those without homes, clothes and food.

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