You can set your time by him. Each day, like clockwork, you can find him digging through the two garbage bins at the entrance of the street, just before the arrival of the garbage truck. Sometimes he’d even come back later in the day on the chance he’d get some morsel to eat or garment he could wear. I have found that seeing any human being dig through garbage for their sustenance has the potential to break your heart, provided you have not become desensitized to such a sight.
Every day he digs through those bins, messing up the streets. He really should go find work to do. Who in their right mind would dig the garbage?
I could not help but detect the air of superiority that accompanied her words. It was stronger than her annoyance at the sight of another human finding their meal amidst filth. I asked her if she or anyone she knew would give him a job as he was in the current moment. She did not answer. It was easy to tell that somehow, she saw herself better than him, and she made the conclusion based on his situation. Oh how we pull our importance and value-system by comparing it to those we feel better than! She continued her tirade about the man in the dumpster.
I have in the past been like her, casting judgment upon people like him and others that looked and lived differently from me. Life and experiences have humbled me greatly, and now I live with more empathy and grace towards others. I know the slide from grace and what it is to end up in situations I never thought I’d be in. I also know what it feels like to have people judge me for things I could not fix, whilst they were not prepared to lift a finger to help. I know that no one would ever make a dustbin their place of choice for meals if they could help it. He could not, and I’m sure that it must hurt and even shame him to daily dig through bin after bin in a quest to eke out an existence and stave off hunger.
It is easy to sit in judgment of the man who makes his existence out of the scraps of food and clothing discarded by others. But desperation and hard times can cause people to do the seemingly unthinkable. The common thinking is that he has chosen this life because of his habits, substance abuse, mental health, or he is being punished by God for some sin. But I can most assuredly tell you that this is not the life any person would willingly choose. So why judge and look down on them when they aren’t in a position to change their lot, and you’re not extending a hand to help them up?
The next time you pass someone rifling through a bin for a meal, why not give them a few dollars and a warm smile? Why not say, ‘not today, here, let me get you something to eat?’ Let’s give more empathy and less judgment, especially to the less fortunate and those it is easier to feel superior to. If I am to believe the scriptures, the man in the bin is no lesser or greater than any of us. Let’s show the less fortunate a little grace and empathy and be thankful that we have the chance to live a better, more comfortable life.
Love, light, and grace
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2018.