I am saddened and disturbed by some things I’ve seen recently. Anthony Bourdain of course comes to mind. He touched the lives of so many with his books and TV shows. I love how he brought people together over food with so much respect and humanity. How much pain must someone be in to see death as a better option? I hate to think. Unfortunately he is only one of many. According to https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/. 123 people A DAY die from suicide in the US.
I also found some videos that I think are appalling but unfortunately all too believable. I myself have seen steady streams of people walk by homeless people like they aren’t there. I know there are so many and you can’t help them all and you get numb from seeing it every day. But, a CHILD? This was a social experiment. They put a young girl on the street on a cold winter day with a cardboard sign. There was a steady stream of people passing. A few gave her a bit of money but the vast majority walked by without giving her as much as a glance. Who stopped? Who sat down next to her and offered help? Another homeless person.
In another experiment they put a very obviously pregnant woman on the street with a sign. She sat there for TWO HOURS while a steady stream of people passed before anyone stopped to help. Who helped? A previously homeless person.
I don’t think this would ever happen in Panama. I’ve seen an occasional beggar at the bus stop in Santiago, and probably 1/3 of the people who pass drop a coin or two in the cup. I’ve fallen off my bike or had flat tires and always, every single time, people have come to help. What has happened in the US? I myself have come across people needing help and have invariably been the only one stopping.
I’ve also talked with a lot of homeless people. If I am close enough to make eye contact I will stop. More than appreciation for any offer of help, what I felt was a sincere appreciation that I SAW them, I noticed them, I recognized that they were people. I have experienced what it’s like not to be seen, and it’s a terrible feeling
It makes me sad to think of what is going on in the US. It looks like we have no empathy. I know there are many good, caring, loving people, but there are so many people suffering alone. If they are outside of our own circle we often don’t know them, don’t see them. Our government who we hope helps our most vulnerable, it seems there is less and less help while the rich get richer and look the other way. We seem to have more and more trouble seeing the sameness in each other instead of the differences, and we seem less willing to give what we have, even if it’s only a little time and conversation.
I don’t have answers. The complexity of the problems and possible solutions are way beyond my pay grade. But, I don’t like feeling ashamed and distressed and frustrated. When I read the news or see videos like these, that is what I feel. No wonder I rarely read the news.
I was in Washington Square (New York) on my way to class one day when I came across the filming of this. There were maybe a couple dozen people watching, and she was less than 15-20 feet from me with speakers on either side of her blasting the music. It’s as powerful today as it was then.