My favorite picture of the Irish countryside

02 December 2010

How do you not get discouraged with humanity? A friend asked me this awhile back, but I didn't really know what he meant. I think I get it now.
We closed Oxfambooks early today because, in case you didn't know, it's snowing like crazy in Dublin. I walked to the bus stop across the river and arrived around 5:15. I've found that my boots are definitely not waterproof, and trudging through the mud and muck made them quite wet. I was wearing two pairs of socks underneath, but they were completely soaked by the time I got to the bus stop. When the bus finally did come at 6:00, my feet were so cold they absolutely ached. As I sat on the bus - scowling and complaining to myself about my cold, aching feet, I looked out the bus window and saw some trash bags in a doorway. Then I saw the trash bags move. The realization hit me that what I was seeing weren't trash bags at all, but a homeless person under a black blanket, huddled on the threshold of a building. All of a sudden, my cold feet didn't seem so bad. This person was laying on the ground - if his/her whole body felt like my feet. . . I can't even imagine how horrible that would be. While I was slowly thawing on the bus and had a nice warm apartment to go home to, this person was facing 15 more hours of intense, bitter cold with no sun to even pretend to shine. I'm not sure what street we were on, but we were still in the city centre so people were passing by. Not one person walking by even gave the lump on the threshold a glance. Maybe they thought it was trash bags like me. Maybe they did notice and simply rationalized that the person was probably a drunk who deserved laying out in the freezing cold. Either way, no one did anything. Are people really this desensitized to each other? Rather than stopping and helping, we just keep on moving with our ear buds firmly blocking out the outside world - waiting for someone else to step up so we can applaud them. Do people really not care?
And now, after I've pitched my little fit, can I really talk? I didn't get off the bus - I don't know what I would have done if I had. Maybe that's the problem everyone has. They want to do something, but they have no idea how they can help. They drown out the injustice of life with their ipods and mobiles because they don't want to feel that guilt that comes with noticing the unpleasantness that affects someone else's life. If they don't see it, it doesn't happen, right? Maybe that's my problem - I see it.