When there is conflict, we strive to be the one in the right, not the one in the wrong. When problems occur over a misunderstanding or disagreement, do you own your part? Are we ego driven as human beings? This may say a lot about the state of our world today. The biggest, the brightest, the best, always comes out on top. To have the most and be the most correct, is hindering us from seeing and understanding those that have the least. I had a child the other day call the homeless man on the corner, “Stupid.” I asked the boy why did he think the man was stupid. The boy stated, “You have to be stupid not to have a place to live”.
Now mind you, the route I was doing is classified as a Homeless and Highly Mobil route. The children transported are coming from shelters and from displaced home situations. I probably should not have continued the conversation, but I was so curious as to how he came to this conclusion. So I asked the student again, why he’d consider the man stupid because he didn’t have a place to live. What if the man’s home burned down and he didn’t have money to replace it? What if the man lost his job and before he could get another, his landlord evicted him for not having money for the rent? The student then volunteered that he did not live with his mother because she was looking for a house for him and his siblings. They were put out of their house because his mother could not pay the rent. At the moment, he was living with his grandmother. I pointed out that this may be the same issue the homeless man was going through. He just may not have anyone he could live with at the moment. The student however, put the blame on everyone but his mom and said because the person on the corner was a man, he should be able to do better. I suppose the pride a son has for their parent, makes the parent in the boy’s eyes, do no wrong. But the judgment this young man had for the homeless man surprised me. They both were in similar situations but the boy thought he had it much better because he wasn’t “as homeless” as the man and that the man had greater responsibility than his mother.
I encouraged the student that before he looked at another human being as being less than, imagine what his circumstances may be. Just like his family, the issues brought upon them may not have been under their control, but they happened. Thus putting them in a space of uncertainties and confusion. Even though his mother was doing the best that she could, there was something that has prevented them from being together under the same roof. I reminded the student that he should be grateful there was somewhere he could stay in the meantime, and that calling others stupid for their situation before knowing the whole story, may not be such a nice thing to do. People’s understanding of themselves as well as others can dramatically change this world. No one is different. We may have different skin colors, religious persuasions or material status’, but we all are the same. We want the same things out of life. To be happy, prosperous, protected and understood. Once we begin to feel our needs and wants hold more importance than the next, is where the problems begin. Our egos start to control us and put ourselves at a higher standard than the next person. We look down at their struggle and expect them to pull through like we may have. We forget what it felt like when we were in those same shoes. How hard it was to remain positive when things got real tough. We forget to encourage and leave the judgments aside. I constantly remind myself and my children how quickly things can go wrong. I try to stay diligent in keeping our lives afloat, but I always recall when things were much harder.
This students’ response to the homeless man and what he thought was his lack of readiness to correct his condition, troubled me. I understand some people choose to live a particular way that may be different then what we choose, but to assume that it is a choice and not a life altering event that happened to them, makes me wonder how many other people are judged in this way. Before we find fault in someone else’s actions or inactions, are we 100% infallible? Are we asking ourselves what are some things we can improve on and what is our contribution to the conflict? We have to own our part in this life we were given. We are not here to just build ourselves but one another as well. We have to choose to look beyond our own selfish needs and create an open mind that can embrace others and their needs and situations. Looking at others as we see ourselves may improve the way we treat one another. Doing for others as we would want done for us in our time of need, can keep us grounded in an understanding that we are all one and none of us are perfect.