Good Deeds

NYC-cop-buys-shoes-for-homeless-man-in-viral-photo Those of us on Facebook have seen this picture a number of times as our friends share it across the social networking site. The picture went viral which got the attention of the Today Show. During the interview, the officer he said he did what any other officer would’ve done if faced with the same situation. If that was the case, then why didn’t this man have boots? I have no doubt many officers saw the man without shoes and not just police officers but firefighters, paramedics, and non-uniformed people such as you and me. Everyone but this one police officer ignored the man *because* he was homeless.

While the police officer and the tourist are getting their 15 minutes of fame, I wonder about the man. Do we know his name? Has the Today Show interviewed him? We know a description of him from the officer “he was the most polite gentleman I ever met” and a picture of him but has anyone tried to find him and ask if he wants to be on TV telling the world of the kind deed this officer did? No. He’s homeless.

The deed was an act of the powerful giving to the powerless. This wonderful act of kindness doesn’t solve the man’s problems: he’s homeless, poor, inadequately dressed for the winter, and probably malnourished. But everyone can feel good about the cop and the tourist! Our attention is on them not on the man who was the recipient of the kindness.

I cannot speak to the reasons for homelessness. I’m an not well informed on the subject. In my career I have only worked with the homeless on the periphery. But from my perspective it seems the solution to homelessness is to end poverty. Our society creates homelessness by requiring huge amounts of money to rent or buy a home, food, and healthcare. If one is not working, or working below what it requires to have housing, food, and healthcare, then one is rendered invisible but not before they are blamed for not working hard enough, for being too picky, for being lazy, or for “enjoying” being homeless.

This picture shows us there are good people out there. I want to see more pictures of such random acts of kindness. But I also want to see pictures of solutions being created: solutions to end poverty and homelessness, the undo the obstacles that keep *everyone* in this country from accessing healthcare, to breaking down barriers that keep clean food and water from anyone who lives on this planet.