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Beggars

By Anastasia Raven

Section: Arts

March 14, 2008

diverse-city-3-14-08_page_3_image_0001.jpg I look out the window and see and garbage heap. I watch as beggars shift through junk, looking for a scrap of food. I see washing machines, microwaves, ovens… Most of them are still usable, if the people that found them could pay for electricity. It sickens me to watch these poor, hungry, hopeless fools hunt for food.

There are just too many to feed them all, so they travel to the garbage heaps. There, they will most likely find a pristine, 3 course meal that was thrown out because it was cold. I look on the heap and frown, thinking that something must be done. We throw things out so carelessly; we do not think of those who truly need it.

“Why don’t we give our food away?” I asked as I walked down the street, holding a box full of ‘used’ food. “Why don’t we save our scraps so that everyone in the world will have something to eat?” I asked the people who walked by their poor neighbors without a glance. They told me this, “Why should we give them our food? We work hard so that there is food on our tables, and in our stomachs, not in the empty black holes the poor might call bellies. If they want food, they should work for it, not have it given to them.”

Then I asked the poor neighbor, who sits on the corner of 86th and Lexington begging for a couple of coins, “Why do you sit here?” He told me, “I sit here because I have no where else to go. I cannot get a job because I was too dumb to finish school. Here, at least, I get a few coins. With what is given to me, I am able to survive.” “Is this survival?” I asked, gesturing toward his ragged, dirty appearance. He made no reply.

“Why do you not ask someone for help?” I pitied this poor neighbor, who was so kind to others even if those same people treated him like dirt. “I have my honor, don’t I?” He asks me gruffly. I see that he does not want my help.

I turn to go but his gnarled hand reaches out to tug at my long coat. “Did you ever think that sitting out here each day, lying in the freezing snow was a way of asking for help?” I shook my head. “No, I never thought. But I am only one person, I cannot do anything.”

The homeless man smiled. “You are already doing something. It is much more than any other person on this block has done. You have brought me food and a blanket. You gave me help even when you thought I didn’t want it. Thank you.” I nodded and went back to my apartment. The homeless man gave me much to think about.

Many homeless people acted as though they did not want others to help them. Maybe they did and were just too ashamed to ask for it. I knew that some went to shelters for food and a good night’s sleep. Others went to clothing drives and churches in order to receive aid. The homeless— I say it like it’s their name but it’s not. They aren’t nameless, faceless, nonentities. They have lives, pasts, futures. They are just like the people who walk down the street and refuse to look at them. Their economic status might be different but they are still there, still human.

I look out the window, and see a treasure trove just waiting to be explored, not just a dump filled with garbage. I see kings and queens reigning in their golden palaces, and I see the riches of the world, left for those majestic people of the street. I watch as the noble men and women, walk with everyone, no matter how old, or how ugly, or how diseased. They are a community, and they respect each other because of their honor.

Though they are beggars, haggard and worn, they have the mien of royalty, and deign to notice the lower folk, those who do not wish to contemplate the horrors of their ‘terrible’ lives. For all of those who believe that richer is better; these people, the ones who scavenge the garbage heaps for trinkets and share their life savings with starving mothers so that the women can buy milk for their children, are truly the richest folk. They can live life, they do not have to deal with society’s subjugations, and they are as free as birds. They roam where they will, never forced to stay in one city or another. They are free.

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