The only way out is through.









Mailing List   Music Player  
Do You Have Any Change? 

Ron Atchison  


Several years ago I was at a train station in Amsterdam waiting in line to buy a ticket. As I stood there I saw a young homeless man asking people for money so he could buy breakfast. It was early in the morning and most of the travelers simply ignored the young man or gave him a dirty look. There was one exception though - an older, well-dressed businessman who looked as though he was from the middle-east. When approached by the panhandler, the gentleman looked straight into his eyes and quietly asked "How much will you need?" I couldn't hear what the young man said but watched as the older man pulled several bills from his wallet and calmly placed them in the young mans' hands.

I don't know if the young man actually used this money for breakfast or for some other purpose. What I do know is that I witnessed two completely different reactions to the same situation. I saw people who were either afraid or annoyed or distrustful. And then I saw this man who was not afraid and treated the homeless man as though he were a brother. I decided then and there that, even though we have to be careful in this world, I would rather be like him.

May this day bring us many opportunities for kindness... ;-)

PS... I've received a lot of email regarding this story and just wanted to clarify that what impressed me more than anything was that the older man did not look away when he was approached (like so many others did). The fact that he offered money wasn't nearly as important as the way he looked into the other mans' eyes.

I've spent a lot of years living in San Francisco where we have thousands of homeless people, many of them mentally ill, and it's hard to take a walk without someone asking for change. If I gave to everyone who asked I would soon find myself broke. And I know that some will waste whatever change I give them on booze or drugs. But sometimes I can see in their eyes that they are hungry and I take the chance. Maybe they'll buy a hamburger, maybe they'll buy another bottle... I can't predict it. But at least now they have a choice where perhaps there wasn't one before.

I understand this is a complicated issue and there doesn't seem to be a perfect answer. So we do what we can, in the best way we know how.

Share this story!
Share this story with your friends on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter...

 Rate this story!