The Dignity of Every Human Life


I stopped in to get some coffee and a few other really important things at the local quickie mart today, and walked into the tail end of a situation that perplexed me. The cashier was in a quiet conversation with a man at the counter, and from their demeanor it seemed to be of some consequence. I checked my lotto tickets, and to my great surprise I hadn’t won a damn thing so I moved on to the coffee, which was a sure thing, and indeed much more important.

The quiet conversation ended and the man stepped outside where an older man in worn camo and a scruffy kind of beard approached him; they talked for less than a minute and went on their separate ways. I watched the bearded guy as he walked past the windows and I asked the cashier what was wrong with him. She said quite firmly that nothing was wrong with HIM, but the quiet guy had a problem deciding whether or not to part with fifty cents for a bag of peanuts for the other guy, who was obviously down on his luck and was hungry. I thanked her and stepped outside feeling really sad about it, and as I got to my car I start looking around to see if I could still see him. Nope, nowhere in sight.

I hopped in my car because I all of a sudden couldn’t bear not to give him some cash from the ATM I’d just stuck in my wallet,  just so I could maybe erase the feeling he must’ve gotten from that encounter. I drove between the quick mart, the restaurants, and the motels, trying to see where he’d tucked himself but he was nowhere.

I even checked out the intersections where some people will stand to try to get help, but no sign of him there either. Sad, sad, sad. It made me glad I’d given my last dollar bill the day before to the old guy at the intersection. I almost didn’t because I was embarrassed that I only had one dollar on me! How weird is that?? But I did catch that ignorant thought and rolled down my window and apologized for only having that to give at the moment. He was so grateful, and I was glad I’d overcome my ego thinking and gave him what I had at least.

I recall two stories in my life in this area that truly struck me as amazing and made me long for the better world we all should be working towards. One was in the bible, when “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, the gave to anyone as he had need. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts”. The other was from the book The Host where the “souls” that had taken over the human bodies simply did their daily business together and charged nothing, it was a worldwide exchange system I guess where everyone did what we do in our daily work, but charged nothing because they could also get what they needed where ever they went. One huge network of giving and receiving. Wow. It blows my mind!

So I guess, since I don’t live in that world right now, I just want to do whatever I can to lessen the impact on the dignity of the individual going through hard times. If I have something to share I will, with a glad and sincere heart. I know what it’s like to be without. To not have enough money to not go hungry that day, to not have a car and have to walk to work, to thank God for the people in my life at that time who loved on me and left me with dignity because they didn’t make it “charity” and I didn’t have to accept it as such. But I was so grateful, and to see someone’s actions or attitudes diminish someone’s spirit for even a second just hurts my heart. I pray I will never do that to another. I pray my heart will always be open to give…even if it’s the last dollar bill left in my purse. We must take care of the parts of us that are out there broken and alone. Just the ones in front of us. If each of us help the one in front of us won’t we then cure the world of this? We can at least try.

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