Do we look away when we see a blind or handicapped or deformed person in public? Do we wish to avoid contact or communication with such a person?
This past Sunday afternoon, I happened to glance out a front window of our home. Across the busy street on which we live, a man was standing in front of a small church. He had a white cane which indicated he was blind. There were many passersby on the sidewalk in the next few minutes who walked by him without any indication they had even seen him.
I decided to put on my shoes and walk across the street to talk with him and see if he needed assistance. After walking up to the corner so as to cross the street with the traffic light, I was able to walk down to where he was standing. I asked him if he had a ride or needed a ride. He told me that he was waiting for a particular bus (a transit company that takes handicapped people around to where they need to go). After a few pleasantries, I wished him well and a good day. Back at home, several minutes later I did see a shuttle type bus stop and pick him up. It is possible that no one else took a moment to ask if he needed assistance or to give him a pleasant greeting. (Readers, be assured this is not to talk myself up, but to note that the many people who walked by him seemed not to notice his presence.)
When I see a blind person, or someone in a wheelchair, or a horribly deformed or disfigured individual, I choose to see the immortal soul residing in the imperfect, impaired or mangled flesh. Such individuals are often ignored and may feel terribly alone at times. They may even feel that they are burdens to those around them, even to their loved ones. Yet, they are our fellow human beings, and their human dignity warrants our respect.
A few words, a brief conversation, a warm smile can let a handicapped person know that the whole world has not forgotten them, is not ignoring them. And, such a simple kindness does not cost any of us much at all – just a few seconds of our time.
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