“If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.” – Horace Traubel
I heard this quote about a week ago, and it sparked something special in my soul. These words seem to perfectly string together, wrap up, and tie in a bow the mission of Indira’s Inner Beauty – and my mission as a human being on this earth. I want to share with you a very special sentiment that I was overflowed with yesterday.
I was walking around The Loop in Chicago with a friend. We had fun plans to get brunch at the new Yolk location on Madison, and then see the Takashi Murakami exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. We did do those things, and they were both awesome and fun, but not the highlight of the day for me.
We were walking from brunch to the museum and, like at pretty much any cross-walk in the heart of the city, there was a homeless man with a dirty plastic cup asking for money. This man was definitely in need of an act of kindness. He was hunched over in a way that made it clear that he could barely walk, and he was exhausted from standing in the blazing 91 degree heat with what looked like his only shirt, a dark long-sleeved one. He could barely talk and he was very, very thin. I saw him before we crossed over to his side of the street and I immediately started rummaging through my purse.
He was quietly asking, “please help me,” to everybody walking by. I took out my wallet and dumped all of the coins that I had into his cup. I wish I could have given him more, but it was about a dollar and a half – which is better than nothing. He said “God bless you,” at least three times while I poured the change into his cup. I felt so sad for him that his life consisted of this; being hungry, sick, and alone having to ask strangers for money. I felt the sudden urge to hug him, so I did. I gave this man a tight hug, carefully in order not to hurt him. He kept saying “God bless you,” to me. I let go and said it back to him, wished him a good 4th of July weekend, and walked away.
That is the last time I ever saw this man. I don’t know his name, or really anything about him, but I love him. The way that he smiled at me warmed my heart in a special way. I love this man, and I hope he got himself that food he needed with the money I gave him, even though it wasn’t much at all.
I felt like crying as I walked away. I wish I could have done more for him. I went on a long rant afterwards, which I’ll do my best to summarize. I kept telling my friend, “under the Trump administration, these are the people who get completely and utterly overlooked.” This was an African-American male, and in this society Black men are often treated as “thugs” for no valid reason at all, simply due to racism engrained in people’s brains by older generations. This man has a beautiful soul, I could just tell. But because he is Black and homeless, people don’t look twice at him.
People may call me racist for making this statement, but I believe my statement is one encouraging racial sensitivity. Most people have some sort of modern racism instilled in their brains. Modern racism is subconsciously doing things such as sitting further away from a person of color on the bus, or similar acts. While traditional racism (explicitly stating dislike for another race) is dying down compared to what it was like 50 years ago, many people of this generation have been raised by people who were raised in traditionally racist homes. This is one of the many ways a person can come to engage in modern racist thought processes, being exposed to racist messages at home. There are many other ways that this can occur, but that’s a post for another day.
There are challenges that Black Americans face that nobody can understand if they are not Black. I am not Black; I can’t fully understand these challenges at all. However, I can observe people’s behavior and I can draw from experiences that Black friends or colleagues have shared with me. An overwhelming majority of the people asking for money on the street in downtown Chicago are Black or Latinx. People are immediately much more likely to drop their quarters in the cup of a White male rather than a Black male counterpart. I find that disgusting. This is the 21st century and the fact that racism still exists is absolutely disgusting.
This isn’t the point of this story, but it is something I felt needed to be interjected because I put a lot of thought into it yesterday. Under the Trump administration, I do believe that homeless individuals, individuals who struggle with socioeconomic status, individuals who identify with the LGBTQ+ community, and individuals who identify with a racial minority in the United States, I believe that these people are being done a huge disservice under the current administration.
From things like cutting funding for “Meals on Wheels,” to threatening to build a wall at the border of the United States and Mexico, to simply making the ignorant statements that he makes, Donald Trump is slowly getting one step closer to his goal of making America solely White, conservative, and rich again. Choosing to cut government funding that is used to make this country livable for every inhabitant is simply cruel. As a liberal, and somebody who cares about the marginalized communities of the world, I believe that the government should be taking care of these people. With even a quarter of the money spent on unnecessary things, for example bombs, this country could be a large step closer to feeding individuals who can’t feed themselves and helping these individuals who are currently not being given a fighting chance even a bit.
I believe that this government should be taking care of all Americans, not just wealthy ones. I do not understand how a person can believe that other individuals do not deserve food, water, shelter, education, and weather-appropriate clothing. I don’t understand how somebody in a position of power can simply not care enough to look into these issues. I don’t understand how such a diverse country can vote into office somebody who cannot care enough to help people in need.
We need better resources for homeless individuals, low-income individuals, and military veterans. Everybody deserves to become trained in something in order to find a job to support themselves. The government has enough resources to be doing a much better job than this. These people deserve government aid. These people deserve to be given help from a capable government and then be able to make it on their own, not survive off of charity. Because, while charity is very kind, there shouldn’t be this enormous of a financial discrepancy in this country. Charity often implies a superior and an inferior, and therefore it instills even bolder lines between socioeconomic classes; that isn’t what it should be about. Everybody deserves food, water, shelter, and clothes while they get back on their feet. The American government has enough money to do this. Obama was making really significant strides of improvement in this direction. Can Barack, Joe, and Michelle just come back now?
I have so much more to say about this topic, and more stories to share with you all from various times in my life. Those stories are for another day to come very soon. I am working on figuring out how people like myself, and my lovely readers, can help with this situation. I will absolutely write about it once I figure it all out. But, for now, I simply ask you to be kind to others around you. Give a dollar to the person on the street who is asking for spare change in order to eat. I gave four other people some money yesterday, and a hug, but I deeply wish I could have done more. If a few coins can help build one fire, imagine what the world would be like if everybody who could were to give a few coins to somebody in need. The world would surely become less cold.
I gave that man on the street a hug yesterday because I wanted him to feel seen. I wanted him to know that I see him, and I care about him. Everybody deserves to be seen, and everybody deserves to be cared about. This man deserves better. This country deserves better. We must fight for the rights of those who cannot fight for their own. The fight must charge forward, and we must take it upon ourselves to make adequate change for our human brothers and sisters. Donald Trump sure doesn’t seem to be doing so.