The Homeless Man and The Passerby

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A short parable of a homeless man and a passerby.


One day, a homeless man came into a town. He didn’t own much but his clothes were clean and he was polite to everyone he met.


But he didn’t have any money. So he went to the town square to ask people for some change. Some ignored him. Others were kind enough to give him a little of their change. And he was thankful for the people who shared their spare change with him.


Until a passerby saw him and told him to go to the soup kitchen. The homeless man was a stranger to this town. He didn’t know where the soup kitchen was. So he kindly asked the passerby, ‘can you direct me to the soup kitchen?’


The passerby looked up from their phone and replied, ‘It’s not my job to give you directions. Besides, I have more important things to do than help you. Figure it out yourself.’


The people near the homeless man heard what the passerby said and silently agreed with themselves, thinking the homeless man should have done this in the first place instead of waste everyone’s time.


But the homeless man was outspoken and quite frankly, he missed having conversations with people. So he replied. ‘You didn’t have to be so rude. If you can’t be bothered to tell me the direction of the soup kitchen, then perhaps you shouldn’t have approached me at all.’


The passerby replied, ’I was busy when I made the suggestion. Not anymore. But I still won’t help you because I’m not entitled to help you.”


The homeless man was quite shocked by the passerby’s attitude. So he replied. ‘No one is entitled to help me. But I’m always happy to receive any help I can get from strangers. However, your attitude is very rude after I politely asked you where the soup kitchen was. You didn’t have to say you don’t have time. Why not just come at a later time when you feel like answering? Or even if you don’t answer, I wouldn’t hold it against you. Don’t you have a bit of empathy for others?’


The passerby replied, ‘Who cares? You want to complain to the police? Go ahead. I can say or do anything I want.’


The argument continued and eventually a policeman came by. He watched the homeless man and the passerby argue but did nothing. Instead, he watched in the sidelines, with the rest of the crowd.


Eventually, the homeless man replied. ‘A word of advice: Everyone always starts from zero at some point. It’s only natural to ask for help from others. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. I’m only here to look for some spare change and a little bit of human kindness.’


The passerby replied, ‘Well, this is my reaction to people who are too lazy to figure things out themselves.’


The homeless man laughed. He may be homeless and poor but in some ways, he was more clear about things such as human respect and empathy.


The passerby replied. ‘ I hope you lose all your spare change and good luck to getting a bad job.’


The homeless man replied. ‘Coming from you, no thanks. I can get by without you wishing me luck. I wouldn’t want to be contaminated by your bad energy.’


The homeless man had enough of this conversation. He patted the dust from his clothes and replied, ‘What a way to welcome someone new in town.’


He thought to himself how the world has changed so much since the last time he went down from the mountains. And this change was not a good change. Human empathy was quietly disappearing. Kindness from strangers was no longer a common sight.


People had changed. They were more self-centered. More distracted from the true sight. Even sparing a bit of time to help a stranger was already asking too much for them. He sighed. And went back up the mountains. Later on, he visited others town and met nicer, and kinder people.


But he never went back to that town again.


Submitted: May 18, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Myariel Lee. All rights reserved.

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