the art of being human
A blind man sitting on a sidewalk somewhere in Italy, is begging for alms. His hand-written cardboard sign says, “Please help.” Video time lapse shows people walking past him, very few reaching into their pockets or even noticing him. A well-dressed young man who passes the beggar several times does notice him, and how he is largely ignored. The young man bends down and picks up the sign. He turns it over and with a large black marker writes something, then places it beside the blind man again. Another video time lapse of people passing by shows that this time many, many people are placing bills and offerings in the blind man’s bucket. Some time later the young man passes by the blind beggar again. Sensing his presence, the beggar asks the youth what he did, what he wrote that had made such a difference. We see the new sign and it says, “It’s a beautiful day out, but I can’t see it.”
Why do these words tug at the heartstrings more than seeing a blind man begging on the sidewalk? Story! The power of story. Not only story, but context. With just a few words, the youth had turned the man’s circumstances into story framed within a deeper context of understanding, and people naturally responded to it with innate compassion and kindness.
Humankind – it’s not an oxymoron.