Should my cardboard sign read, “Help me, I’m starving” or “Don’t Judge me”?

346 words
“You can’t leave until you’ve cleaned your plate…don’t you know there are starving children in Africa?” Your mother may have used this phrase on you before. Yes, there are starving children in Africa—and in the United States. What is the relation between a spoonful of peas in Boston and a child with a barren belly in Nairobi?

With more than 1.3 million nonprofits providing international aid and 21.3 billion dollars spent on U.S. foreign aid, do we focus too much on the child in Africa when the homeless man on Comm Ave may be starving just the same?

The hunched man draped with a black garbage sack clutching a used McDonalds paper cup catches my attention, as I walk by the Kenmore T-stop entrance on my way to school. On the way home, he’s still there. Every day—same place—his presence no longer seems shocking but blends with the backdrop of the city—a Bostonian landmark like the Prudential building or John Hancock tower. Did I become immune? Does the commonality of the homeless man make it less shocking, less important?

“He should really get a job. His clothes aren’t too tattered—he doesn’t look that poor off. I can’t believe this man is getting more money on the street than I do working at an office all day. Look—he’s smoking—I don’t want to support his bad habits.”
Do you ever find yourself judging?

We judge and rationalize the petitioning person, until the human aspect doesn’t affect us. When we diminish the humanity, the ignored man becomes a rejected statue. Yes, he may be asking for money at an inconvenient time. Yes, he may use your precious dollar to perpetuate a dirty habit. Yes, he may not need your money—but he may need your acknowledgement that he is human too. Don’t judge.

Maybe that dollar could be the difference between his six-month old baby living or dying in a cardboard box under the overpass from malnutrition. Don’t feel bad. Don’t give money. Don’t stop—or DO. Either way, just don’t judge.



"Don't rip your pants on the fence"

345 words
Must everything be relative these days? When was the last time you asked a question and someone answered yes or no. You're on the boat or your off, you're on one side of the fence or the other—it would be pretty uncomfortable to sit on the pointed, splintered edge of a fence for long. Get off the fence!

“Hot dogs, get your hot dogs, cracker jacks, clam chowdah”….the green monster, cheering fans and players adorned in red and white—I sat down amidst a sea of fans—Section 42, row 19, seat 16. At the beginning of the game I was a mere spectator, but by the end, I was authoritatively yelling at the players and telling them what to do. Every fan is a coach—an expert. How can we tell the players what to do when we are doing absolutely nothing! Get off the sidelines!

President Roosevelt wouldn’t stand by as a spectator, a fence-sitter or a relative by-stander. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood….” Get in the arena!

Get in the game! Be a player. Be an actor. Be a doer. Don't just talk. Don't rip your pants on the fence—choose a side and then jump off into the world of decision. You are in control of your life. You are accountable for your choices—or the lack thereof.

Relative is safe. Relative is tolerant. Relative does not offend—hang the word “relative” on the sharp, jagged edge of a fence! Tolerance used to be a virtue—could it be a vice? Perhaps we are so tolerant that we’ve become complacent. Tolerance is intertwined with relativism, together leading to a world of inaction. Can anything be absolute? True? Unwavering? Without doubt? Maybe...I think so...I'm not really sure...I'll have to think about it—YES!