Walking around downtown one day

A few years ago I saw a woman wailing at the top of her lungs. She was in a bus stop shelter, accompanied by a man, sitting on the bench. They both looked houseless and disheveled. I walked right on by, hearing this woman weep all the way down the street.

Thinking back to this event, I wonder why I did not do something to help her. A little money. A warm remark. Some simple consolation. I’d like to think that a better man than I… a man with more empathy and sympathy, like Gandhi or the Buddha, would not have left things the way I did. If it were me in her situation, I know that I would have like to know that someone out there cared… that the world wasn’t a barren wasteland of selfishness.

I empathized with this woman. I too know what it is like to feel pain. To feel alone. To feel helpless and lost. I am sure we have all suffered, just as this woman was suffering.

Looking back, I know why I did nothing… fear. I was afraid, then, probably as I would be now. I did not know how my actions would be taken. I did not know if it would be appropriate or not. I did not know how I should act, despite knowing how I felt.

But, the world can be what we make it. I can make the most out of the world around me. I can make a difference. Anyone can.

Then again, perhaps I did nothing because of the look on the man’s face. An expression of slight embarrassment that communicated…”Yes, she is wailing again.” I don’t know what her issue was… whether it was some sort of chemical imbalance, or perhaps she was distraught at her meager existence while being surrounded by such affluence. I guess I will never know.

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